California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday denied clemency for Stanley “Tookie” Williams, clearing the way for the convicted murderer’s execution.
“The facts do not justify overturning the jury’s verdict or the decisions of the courts in this case,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, who added that he could “find no justification for granting clemency.”
Williams, co-founder of the Crips street gang, was to be executed at one minute past midnight.
Late last night, Williams lost a last-ditch U.S. Supreme Court appeal, as justices refused without comment to intervene and block the execution. The court’s action was not a surprise, because justices rarely award stays in the last-minute emergency appeals filed routinely on behalf of death-row inmates.
Mr. Schwarzenegger said he did not think Williams had been redeemed, given his continued claims of innocence and refusal to apologize for his crimes.
“Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption,” the Republican said. “In this case, the one thing that would be the clearest indication of complete remorse and full redemption is the one thing Williams will not do.”
Williams was convicted of murder involving two 1979 robberies. In February 1979, Williams killed Whittier, Calif., convenience-store clerk Albert Owens with two shotgun blasts in the back. Less than two weeks later, while robbing the Brookhaven Motel in Los Angeles, Williams used the same shotgun to kill Yen-I Yang, his wife, Tsai-Shai Yang, and their daughter, Yee-Chen Lin.
Five courts rejected Williams’ appeals.
Williams’ attorney, Jonathan Harris, said Mr. Schwarzenegger’s statement “defies logic” and that new evidence should be heard.
“I read the governor’s statement to say that an innocent man requesting clemency had to admit his crimes before he was granted clemency, and that makes absolutely no sense,” Mr. Harris said.
Williams’ conviction in the death of Mr. Owens is supported by eyewitness testimony from Alfred Coward and Tony Sims, Williams’ accomplices. The conviction for the motel slayings is based on ballistics evidence and testimony from Williams’ friend Samuel Coleman, Wiliams’ roommate James Garrett and jailhouse informant George Oglesby, who said Williams confessed his crimes to them.
“Melvin Farmer, Stanley Williams’ cellmate, gave a declaration that he was an associate of James Garrett and that Mr. Garrett had a modus operandi for committing crimes and blaming other people, and that Mr. Oglesby fabricated his testimony,” Mr. Harris said. “These informants were given incentives by the prosecutors and reduced sentences for their testimony.”
Bruce S. Gordon, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said the case “absolutely reinforces the NAACP position in opposition to the death penalty. … There is absolutely no recognition given to redemption.”