Terry Williams is facing the death penalty in three weeks for killing the man who repeatedly raped him.
But when Terry was convicted, the jury didn’t know the whole story. At the time of his trial, jurors say they had no history or background of the sexual assault and abuse that Terry Williams had suffered for years.
Terry was brutally raped for five years, beginning when he was thirteen, by an older man he trusted — Amos Norwood. When the jury learned his information after the trial, five jurors came forward to say that they no longer supported his death sentence. Even Norwood’s widow has forgiven him, and does not want Terry to be executed.
“When I heard about Terry Williams’ life and his legal case, I knew I had to do what I could to stop the scheduled execution of a man who should not be on death row and would not be on death row had the jury heard all the relevant evidence,” said Sue Osthoff, Director of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, a Philadelphia-based organization that assists victims of abuse and trauma who have been charged with crimes related to their abuse.
Like many of the victims of abuse Sue assists, Terry was repeatedly victimized. For Terry, that abuse by older males in his life started when he was only six years old. Despite continuing to suffer sexual abuse for the next twelve years, Terry received no counseling or support to help him deal with the repeated violence he endured. In fact, some of the people who were supposed to help were the ones who actually preyed on him.
None of this information was presented to the jurors during Terry’s sentencing; had it been, Terry would not be on death row.
The public outcry for Terry’s clemency is growing. A broad coalition of people has joined the jurors and victim’s widow in asking that Terry’s sentence be commuted from death to life. Those calling for Terry’s life to be spared include a growing list of child advocates, victims’ rights advocates, former prosecutors and judges, law professors, mental health professionals, and faith leaders across Pennsylvania.
Sue Osthoff is very familiar with stories like Terry’s. She started this petition because she believes that if the jury had all of the evidence, they would not have sentenced Terry to death.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
– Emilia and the Change.org team