Death row gang leader to make final appeal

I think Tookie has turned his life around and has done some good work, I think giving him life without parole would be better.  I mean he’s been in there for 25 years anyway and he’s 51 now. What harm could that do.

Schwarzenegger holding clemency hearing for Williams

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a clemency hearing on condemned Crips gang co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams on Thursday before he makes one of the most anticipated decisions of his administration.

Williams, 51, was sentenced to death for the murder of a store clerk and a family running a motel in separate 1979 robberies. After 24 years in prison, he is set to be executed by lethal injection next Thursday at San Quentin prison north of San Francisco.

During a 60-minute session behind closed doors, his lawyers will make an unusual argument in asking Schwarzenegger to commute Williamsí sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Rather than repeat arguments, which have failed in court, that Williams is innocent, his lawyers are making an appeal that he is worth more alive than dead because of his work in urging youths to avoid gangs.

ìOur petition is not based on innocence,î said Peter Fleming, one of Williamsí attorneys. ìOur petition is based upon rehabilitation of Stanley personally, but it is at least as importantly based on the value of Stanley Williams to the at-risk children in this country.î

Fleming said they would also bring a message from Williams to the governor, but declined to say what is was.

Supporters of clemency for Williams have stepped up their lobbying in the past few days and a university professor submitted the former gang leaderís name for a Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday.

ìItís one attempt just to draw attention to the anti-gang work that Mr. Williams has been doing,î said Philip Gasper, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. ìIf the governor is paying attention, maybe it will remind him of one of the key arguments in the clemency issue.î

Professors, legislators and others are among those who can submit proposals for Nobel Peace Prizes; the latest submission by letter was the sixth on behalf of Williams.

Both bodybuilders
California prosecutors and prison officials call Williams a poor candidate for clemency, let along any prize, because he has not admitted to the murders and still has gang ties.

Defense lawyers say Schwarzenegger represents the last significant chance to spare Williamsí life after the California Supreme Court declined last week to stop the execution.

ìWhen we review death judgments we can review only for error,î Chief Justice Ronald George told Reuters this week.

ìWe cannot exercise that element of mercy which is properly considered as part of outside-the-legal-process function of a governor or a president in granting clemency or a pardon,î he said. ìIt comes down down from the days of royal prerogatives of mercy.î

Schwarzenegger has twice denied clemency appeals since coming to office in 2003. The last California governor to grant clemency before an execution was Ronald Reagan in 1967.

Williams, an avid bodybuilder, says he met Schwarzenegger several times in the early 1970s in the Los Angeles area, including at the famed Muscle Beach gym. The governor has said he does not recall meeting Williams.

ìThere are millions of people that have said that they have worked out with me,î he said last month. ìSo first of all, many of them did, and I donít remember them, and many of them didnít.î

Posted by loni on 12/08 at 08:24 AM in Justice / Injustice

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