The Contra Costa Times has Clemency bid to include claims of errors in trial
What the jury saw was a musclebound hulk in a 4X jacket. What they heard about was barbaric: two cold-blooded robbery murders within 12 days, four dead and a suspect who was said to laugh hysterically as he mimicked the gurgling last breaths of one victim.
Who they heard it from: an alleged accomplice granted immunity, a jailhouse informant, an acquaintance with a checkered criminal past, a friend who later claimed police beat him into testifying.
A police expert tied a shell casing from one crime scene to a slide-action 12-gauge shotgun owned by Stanley “Tookie” Williams, but there were no fingerprints, no pictures, no bystanders to finger him. And no DNA that could bolster or silence his claim of innocence.
Flap wishes to remind the reader that there have been over 24 years of review of this case. There have been federal as well as state appeals court review and reviews by the California and United States Supreme Court. The jury made findings now let the legal system carry out the sentence of death.
A quarter-century later, the trial that landed the Crips gang co-founder on death row draws renewed focus as his Dec. 13 execution date nears. While his backers highlight his tale of atonement and anti-gang outreach from prison, debate over his 1981 prosecution is bound to play out in the Capitol on Thursday as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger entertains his case for clemency.
The state’s lawyers will underscore the savagery of the crimes, his refusal to admit to them and the repeated rejections of his state and federal appeals. In response, lawyers for Williams likely will argue that the kind of “snitch” testimony relied upon in his trial has led to numerous exonerations, that the evidence was weak and appeals courts never really considered his innocence claim.
“What the federal courts have done is looked at a host of legal questions, such as whether Stanley Williams had inadequate representation, and questions about the jury,” said Jonathan Harris, one of the lawyers who will speak for Williams.
The state Supreme Court last week rejected Williams’ bid for new ballistics tests and police records that they hoped would reignite his legal case.
The decision, on a 4-2 vote, leaves Williams hanging his hopes on clemency, which would commute his sentence to life without parole.
California Governor Schwarzenegger was NOT obligated under the law to grant Tookie Williams a clemency hearing and in fact he has NOT done so in prevous death penalty cases. Should he have granted the hearing, scheduled for December 8th?
NO, but since he did it should have been public. But, like in the California Special Election, Schwarzenegger has had his problems with public speaking events – where he might be criticised or actually policy rationale may be discerned.
The issue of guilt or innocence is NOT before the Governor. He should be polite, brief, thank the attorneys and allow the justice system to run its course.
Unlike the clamor of celebrity and media attention over his plea for life, there was scant public interest in Williams’ criminal trial, which started Jan. 21, 1981, and ended in a death sentence two months later.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected all of Williams’ arguments about the witnesses who testified. The United States Supreme Court refused review.
Schwarzenegger should have any easy decision.
The blood is on Tookie’s hands……….