Terrance Williams of Pennsylvania has been sentenced to death after killing two men when he was 17- and 18-years old. What the jury did not know, however, was that Williams had been brutally raped as a child by the two men he killed.
Williams and another teen killed one man just a few months after Williams had turned 18, according to Change.org. He also admitted that he killed another man five months earlier. One man was a church leader and another was a sports booster. The men used their positions to get access to young boys.
Williams was allegedly sexually abused for years by these men, but he was also abused by other older individuals throughout his life. His mother had abused him frequently and his father was absent from the home. His first experience with sexual assault was when he was just six years old, and the abuse continued steadily for the next 12 years of his life.
He did not receive treatment or help from anyone for the duration of his suffering.
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How do we know these abuse accusations are true -- and not just Williams making a calculated attempt at saving his life?
According to The Nation, "It was not until this past winter that another witness would come forward, a former pastor named Charles Pointdexter, who knew Norwood for thirty years. He admitted having known that he had sexually abused teen boys.
“Amos seemed to have lots of close relationships with young men…” he stated in an affidavit signed February 9, 2012, saying that he began to suspect that they were “inappropriate” in nature. A few years before Amos’s death, one of the parishioners, the mother of a 15-year-old boy, told him that he had “touched her son’s genitals” during a car ride and that “Amos had inappropriately touched a number of boys at the church.” Pointdexter kept the knowledge to himself.
Because Williams was embarrassed and ashamed by the abuse, he says he did not present his experiences as evidence for trial. His lawyer also failed to conduct a thorough investigation of Williams’ motivations for killing the men, and ignored obvious signs of sexual abuse.
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Many notable people have come forward to state that they would like his sentence to be reduced to life without parole. Among those objecting to his sentencing include the wife of one victim, five jurors from the trial, judges, child advocates, former prosecutors, faith leaders, mental health professionals, and law professors.
Jurors from the trial now say they would not have voted for execution had they known about his experiences with sexual abuse as a child.
A widow of one victim said that she has forgiven Williams and does not want any more deaths to come of the incident. She expressed hope that Governor Tom Corbett, the Board of Pardons, and District Attorney Williams will reduce his sentence to life without parole.
Courts have agreed that Williams’ lawyer failed to give him a fair trial, but they also have stated that evidence of sexual abuse would not have made a difference in the sentencing.
Jurors, however, have signed sworn affidavits saying they would not have voted for death if they had known about his past.
Several jurors have also said that they voted for him to be executed because they believed that, if they had not, Williams would be eligible for release on parole.
However, a life sentence in Pennsylvania means the convicted will never be eligible for parole. Pennsylvania is the only state in the U.S. that does not require judges to explain to the jury that a life sentence means there is no possibility of parole.
No explanation of life sentencing was given at Williams’ trial.
Terry Williams’ death warrant for October 3 was signed by Gov. Corbett last week. Corbett is a Catholic Republican.