A boy is sexually abused starting at age six. The abuse goes on until he kills his abusers. He never receives any support or help. The facts of his abuse are hidden from the jury, and he is sentenced to death.
Terry Williams has lived on death row for almost three decades and now all his appeals have run out. Pennsylvania governor Corbett has signed his death warrant and unless an appeal for clemency is successful, he will die on October 3. "He was 18 years old at the time of his trial. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania has spent the past three decades trying to execute him. It never tried to rehabilitate him, but he has succeeded in rehabilitating himself against all odds and in the worst of all possible places."
"Throughout his childhood, Terry suffered prolonged violent physical and sexual abuse from older males. Born into poverty with a violently abusive mother and absent father, Terry faced abuse and neglect in his home that made him vulnerable to sexual predators. He was first raped by an older boy when he was only six years old, and he continued to suffer sexual abuse for the next twelve years.
Several of the jurors, who hadn't known anything about the abuse at the time of his trial, now support clemency for Terry, as does the widow of one of the men he killed. The case has received wide publicity and thousands of people have signed a petition to be given to Governor Tom Corbett. Child advocates, lawyers, and many other professionals have also spoken out in Terry's support.
"Terry's abuse was never presented to his jurors as a mitigating factor in his crime. The jury was confused by its instructions, wrongly believing that Terry might be eligible for parole (life sentences in Pennsylvania are ineligible for parole). The court-appointed lawyer who represented him had neither the resources nor the incentive to mount a proper defense for him."
If you believe that executing this young man is wrong, you can sign the petition here.