Philadelphia,??The Inquirer??- With less than a month before condemned murderer Terrance Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection, a broad-based group of supporters – including the widow of the man Williams killed in 1984 – urged that his life be spared for a crime committed three months after he turned 18, the minimum age for someone to be sentenced to death in the United States.
The advocacy group includes lawyers and former judges, child advocates, and religious figures but Williams’ strongest asset may be an extraordinary affidavit by his victim’s widow. Mamie Norwood, 75, describes a personal transformation from anger and resentment to forgiveness.
At first, Norwood wrote, her husband’s murder was “unbearable for me. [But] several years ago, after much prayer and self-reflection, I found the strength and courage to forgive Terry Williams.
“I do not wish to see Terry Williams executed,” Norwood wrote. “His execution would go against my Christian faith and my belief system. He is worthy of forgiveness, and I am at peace with my decision to forgive him and have been for many years. I wish to see his life spared.”
Five members of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury that condemned Williams for the murder of Amos Norwood have said they would have opted for life in prison had they heard mitigating evidence about Williams’ horrific childhood of sexual abuse by a neighbor, a teacher, and Norwood himself.
“The evidence of abuse in this case is clear,” reads a letter of support signed by 26 child advocates and experts in sexual abuse. “There can be no doubt that Terry was repeatedly and violently abused and exploited as a child and teenager by manipulative older men.
“Terry’s acts of violence have, alas, an explanation of the worst sort: enveloped by anger and self-hatred, Terry lashed out and killed two of the men who sexually abused him and caused him so much pain.”