Pennsylvania is preparing to execute Terrance “Terry” Williams, a man who suffered years of physical and sexual abuse by older males, eventually killing two of his abusers while in his teens.
Mr. Williams, known to his friends and family as “Terry,” is on death row for a crime he committed three and one-half months after his 18th birthday. On that tragic day, Terry and another teenager killed a man. As the sentencing jury heard, Terry also committed another killing five months earlier at the age of 17. What the jury did not hear was that both of the men had sexually abused Terry, and both crimes directly related to Terry’s history of sexual abuse by older males, which began when he was six years old.
The jury that sentenced Terry to death never heard that both of the men who Terry killed, like other sexual predators, were significantly older men who used their positions of power and authority to prey on vulnerable underage boys. Terry was one of those boys. In fact, the night before he committed the crime for which he was sentenced to death, Terry was violently sexually assaulted by the man he killed – a man who had been sexually abusing Terry for years, and who used his position in the local church to prey on other boys.
Like so many adolescent victims of sexual abuse, Terry felt intense shame that kept him from talking about what had happened to him. Terry’s history of sexual abuse was not presented at his capital trial because Terry’s lawyer failed to conduct any meaningful investigation into Terry’s background and ignored obvious evidence of abuse.
While courts agreed that Terry’s lawyer failed him, those courts also said that evidence of sexual abuse would not have made a difference to the jury. However, in sworn affidavits, jurors who sentenced Terry have acknowledged that they would not have voted for a death sentence had they known about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child, the abuse he suffered at the hands of the men he killed, and the psychological impact of that abuse.
In addition, several jurors have stated that they voted for Terry to be put to death only because they mistakenly believed that if they did not sentence Terry to death he would later become eligible for release on parole. The victim’s widow also supports clemency for Terry.
Terry is due to be executed October 3rd! Please sign the petition calling for his release and spread the word!
Please sign this petition and reblog to let other people know about it. This petition is not asking that Terry be pardoned for his actions, only that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.
The power to strip a human being of their right to life is an extremely sacred trust in our government — one considered so grave and extreme that many states do not consider the death penalty to be acceptable under any circumstances, and don’t permit it. While I agree with those states, and am staunchly anti-death-penalty, I understand that not everyone is — but surely you must agree that, even if you do feel there are circumstances in which the government has the right to strip one of its citizens of their continued existence, these cases are only in such extreme circumstances that even a sentence of life imprisonment without parole would be insufficient to their crimes. I cannot see how anyone would feel that was the case here.
Please, learn more about Mr. Williams’ story and I hope you’ll agree that these are not the extreme circumstances which lawmakers envisioned when they provided for the ability to sentence a convicted criminal to death, rather than life imprisonment. Please speak out and help to try and save a man’s life.