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Terry Williams: A Life in the Balance

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As a teenager, so did two older men. They used their influence as a church leader and sports booster for easy access to young boys.

Williams' attorney didn't meet with him until the day before trial. He didn't investigate facts in the case. He never told jurors how he was repeatedly abused. Several now say if they knew the whole truth, they would have voted for life imprisonment, not death.

Five pardons board members considered Williams' plea. They voted three to two for clemency. State law requires unanimity. In a September 18 letter, his lawyers asked for reconsideration. 

At issue is how Assistant District Attorney Thomas Dolgenos answered a question posed by pardons board member Harris Gubernick.

He questioned "the validity of Williams' claim that the prosecutor in (his) trial had promised to help Draper get parole if he testified against Williams."

According to defense lawyer Shawn Nolan, Dolgenos said "the federal courts had heard and rejected that allegation. That is simply false."

Gubernick and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley rejected clemency. No board member explained reasons why.

On reconsideration, a majority only is needed. Maybe Williams has a chance to live.

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Terrywilliamsclemency.com has information on his case. He's been on death row for a crime committed three and a half months after his 18th birthday. 

Youths under age 18 are considered minors. In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Supreme Court ruled 5 - 4 against the death penalty for crimes committed under age 18. Citing 8th Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment, they called doing so unconstitutional.

Williams and Draper (both teenagers at the time) killed Amos Norwood. At age 17, Williams also killed Herbert Hamilton. He and Norwood sexually abused him for years. As a minor, he got 27 years on third-degree murder charges. From age six, other older males also abused him.

It traumatized him. It led to two deaths. Some killings constitute justifiable homicide. Perhaps Williams qualifies. Some battered wives plead it successfully.

The legal dictionary calls it "killing without evil or criminal intent, for which there can be no blame, such as self-defense to protect oneself or to protect another, or the shooting by a law enforcement officer in fulfilling his/her duties."

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"This is not to be confused with a crime of passion or claim or diminished capacity which refer to defenses aimed at reducing the penalty or degree of crime."

The Criminal Law Lawyer Source calls it killing "without malice or criminal intent. When a person commits a justifiable homicide, they are not guilty of a criminal offense."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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