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Terrance Williams, In His Own Words

The latest cause celebre of the anti-death-penalty crowd is Philadelphia murderer Terrance Williams.  His legal/PR machine is claiming that he was molested as a teenager by the man he killed, Amos Norwood.  There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the jury not being told that.

Well, we have sworn testimony that Williams did not know Norwood at all -- the testimony of none other than Terrance Williams.  That is the version that Williams himself chose to tell the jury.  I have uploaded an excerpt of the transcript here.  Read it for yourself.

Q.  And after you knew that the man who agreed to give you a ride, I presume you didn't know Mr. Norwood.  Is that also correct?
A.  No, I didn't know him.
Q.  Had you ever met him before?
A.  No.
Q.  Did you know anything about him?
A.  No.
Q.  So you didn't have any reason to be angry with him or want to wish him any harm; did you?
A.  No.
How on earth can anybody claim that his trial was unfair because the jury did not learn of something (making the generous and doubtful assumption that his present claim is true) when the person now squawking knew it the whole time, testified, and chose to lie about it?  By what twisted notion of "fairness" can anyone buy the argument that this is unfair?  It just staggers the imagination.

Why the big effort for this particular murderer?  I think the other side is horrified by the prospect of the execution of a nonvolunteer in Pennsylvania, a large non-southern state, just as they were with the execution of Robert Alton Harris in California in 1992.  Their strategy is to try to isolate the death penalty to a limited number of rural and southern states before pushing again for national abolition.  Actual enforcement in states such as California and Pennsylvania is toxic to their strategy.


Providing the opportunity, as you do, for the press to learn that a keystone claim in an attempt to tarnish a death sentence just so happens to be verifiably false is a worthy enterprise.

Yes it is.

Honestly, I don't even care if the new story is false or true. The bottom line is that this guy testified on the stand that X was true. He should be bound by that in any subsequent proceedings, and I defy any liberal who may be reading this to challenge that proposition.

Yes, whatever happened to judicial estoppel (you know, say one thing or take a position initially, you're bound by that in any subsequent steps of the case)? Watch (if the death sentence is reinstated), the next claim will be that defense counsel knew that the murderer lied during cross and thus performed ineffectively by not correcting the perjury, which would have also somehow allowed the jury to learn the details of the later-invented abusive relationship.

Bruce Seeliger

Yes. The scenario in your comment actually has convinced Ronnie White (Missouri Supreme Court Justice) and a panel of the Ninth Circuit. Of course, those learned judges missed the day in law school where they taught that you can't salt the trial with error and then complain on appeal.

Kent Scheidegger:

Is it likely that T. Williams repeatedly lied in saying, "No, I didn't know him", never met him, etc., to defend against the charge of pre-meditation?

I venture so because of the closely subseqent question,
"So you didn't have any reason to be angry with him or want to wish him any harm; did you?
A. No.


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