New York Times’ coverage of Terry Williams’ case



On Sept. 13th, we posted an e-mail from that told the story of Terrence Williams, the Pennsylvania death row inmate, scheduled for execution on Oct. 3rd. Williams was found guilty of murdering the men who had continuously raped him since his early teens.


Here’s the link to the New York Times article:


The inmate, Terrance Williams, 46, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Oct. 3 for killing a man after what his supporters say was years of being abused by the victim, as well as by a teacher and an older boy who first raped him when he was 6.

This case has received a lot of media attention, and groups like are seeking to have the death penalty overturned in favor of life in prison. In Pennsylvania, a life sentence means no parole.


English: The room at , completed in 2010. Espa...
The room at San Quentin – completed in 2010. Until this room was built, all California executions were carried out in a converted gas chamber, Also at Quentin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A petition urging Gov. Tom Corbett and the state’s Board of Pardons to commute Mr. Williams’s sentence to life without parole has been signed, his lawyers said, by about 286,000 supporters, including former judges, religious leaders, mental health professionals and 35 advocates for children, who say his crimes resulted from a long history of abuse.

Personally, I – not being a lawyer – would call what Terry did, justifiable homicide. In my opinion, although he certainly does not deserve death, nor does he deserve life w/o parole.

English: new version of File:Death sentences U...
            Death sentences United States                    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



7 thoughts on “New York Times’ coverage of Terry Williams’ case

  1. Fortunately, there are millions of children who are repeatedly children who ate sexually assaulted and do not kill anybody. I haven’t really followed this case, but it as an attorney this is not justifiable homicide. Not unless he felt that he was imminent risk of being sexually assaulted right there right then, which I suspect was not the case. And apparently any insanity plea didn’t work out. Certainly a commutation to life without parole sounds it would be in order.
    I am a death penalty agnostic, but this does not
    necessarily sound like a case where the death penalty would be the best option.


  2. That being said, if he had fought back and killed during one of the assaults and voiced what happened it might be justifiable if he were afraid for his life. Other than that we are only allowed to meet non-lethal force with non-lethal force. I know that sexual assault makes people feel as if it should be able to be met with lethal force, but the court disagrees – although if the person claims to be in fear of death then most juries would probably be sympathetic.

    It is quite unfortunate that he did not present this to his lawyer during the trial. Not knowing that meant that his lawyer could not introduce it as a defense – sort of like battered women’s syndrome.

    And the fact that first he killed one person, then waited months to do in the other certainly speaks to a calculated premeditation rather than some sort of fulminating insanity where he just lost it.

    I read some of your links and it didn’t sound from those brief blurbs as if he was psychotic at the time. As always, a very sad situation for all involved. I’m not a huge fan of the death penalty so I’d rather see his sentence be life without the possibility of parole. I’m also no fan of people to sexually assault children – most of them should also do life without parole as most of them offend again and again and we’ve no effective treatment for them, IMO.


    1. Very well reasoned points. Few things in life grind my gears as much as sexual abuse. I tend to side with the victim regardless of the legalities involved. I just hate the people who would do this to a child, so much. It’s a paradox, because I’m vehemently anti-death penalty.


  3. When working with abused children, especially kids abused by family members – which is where this abuse started – the child is fearful of a family member being sent to jail – of the family turning against the child because of that. It is an incredibly convoluted mess. Frequently the children of incest are more damaged by a parent being incarcerated than we know. If we can stop the sexual abuse and leave the parent in the home while protecting the child (yes it is a knife’s edge balance) then often through family therapy the entire family gets better together. However, in this case it wasn’t just family members – it was many people – and that gives me pause to wonder what happened to this child? Did he get sold as a sex slave? Also, sexually abused kids often become highly sexualized so that may be a factor in his abuse. And because sexual abuse is often pleasurable (odd as that may seem) kids are very conflicted regarding the pain/pleasure and shame/reward/fear situations. As I said – a very convoluted problem. And now his problem is one of his life. I hope he gets the commutation.


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