Skip to comments.Governor Didn't Believe Williams Had Reformed
Posted on 12/12/2005 9:54:28 PM PST by Daralundy
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not just reject Stanley Tookie Williams' request for clemency, he aggressively attacked the central element of the former gang leader's case: Williams, he said, had never really reformed.
Over the last decade, Williams had become famous based on his account of how he went from a gang leader to an anti-gang crusader who had written books aimed at steering young people away from crime. That life story was at the heart of Williams' request for clemency.
Schwarzenegger rejected it entirely, suggesting Williams' redemption claim was "hollow."
The governor laid out his case in a five-page statement that was unusual for the length, detail and blunt tone in which it dismissed Williams' claims. Aides said the statement was largely drafted by Andrea Hoch, Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, and her predecessor, Peter Siggins. Schwarzenegger announced last week that he was appointing Siggins to a state appellate court.
Aides to the governor, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the governor's deliberations, said Schwarzenegger was reviewing drafts of the statement as late as Monday morning. It was officially released shortly after noon. He reviewed as many as half a dozen drafts, asking detailed questions, the aides said.
In the days leading up to the deadline, Schwarzenegger had said that he was approaching the decision with "dread" and that deciding another man's fate was a governor's most difficult task.
But "there is nothing in the tone of the governor's decision that suggests it was a close call or agonized over," said USC law professor Jody Armour.
Instead, Schwarzenegger said there was no question that Williams had murdered four people in 1979. Williams' repeated refusal to admit that became, to the governor, a powerful factor against clemency.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
Here is the complete statement by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denying clemency for Stanley Tookie Williams.
Stanley Williams has been convicted of brutally murdering four people during two separate armed robberies in February and March 1979. A California jury sentenced him to death, and he is scheduled for execution on December 13, 2005.
During the early morning hours of February 28, 1979, Williams and three others went on a robbery spree. Around 4 a.m., they entered a 7-Eleven store where Albert Owens was working by himself. Here, Williams, armed with his pump-action shotgun, ordered Owens to a back room and shot him twice in the back while he lay face down on the floor. Williams and his accomplices made off with about $120 from the store's cash register. After leaving the 7-Eleven store, Williams told the others that he killed Albert Owens because he did not want any witnesses. Later that morning, Williams recounted shooting Albert Owens, saying "You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him." Williams then made a growling noise and laughed for five to six minutes.
On March 11, 1979, less than two weeks later, Williams, again armed with his shotgun, robbed a family operated motel and shot and killed three members of the family: the father, Yen-I Yang, who was shot once in the torso and once in the arm while he was laying on a sofa; the mother, Tsai-Shai Lin, who was shot once in the abdomen and once in the back; and the daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, who was shot once in her face. For these murders, Williams made away with approximately $100 in cash. Williams also told others about the details of these murders and referred to the victims as "Buddha-heads."
Now, his appeals exhausted, Williams seeks mercy in the form of a petition for clemency. He claims that he deserves clemency because he has undergone a personal transformation and is redeemed, and because there were problems with his trial that undermine the fairness of the jury's verdict.
Williams' case has been thoroughly reviewed in the 24 years since his convictions and death sentence. In addition to his direct appeal to the California Supreme Court, Williams has filed five state habeas corpus petitions, each of which has been rejected. The federal courts have also reviewed his convictions and death sentence. Williams filed a federal habeas corpus petition, and the U.S. District Court denied it. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed this decision. Williams was also given a number of post-trial evidentiary hearings, and he and his lawyers had the opportunity at these hearings to present evidence that was not heard at trial. The jury's decision has withstood these challenges.
In all, Williams' case has been the subject of at least eight substantive judicial opinions. Prior to the filing of the clemency petition, the state court habeas process was completed on June 21, 1995, when the California Supreme Court denied Williams' fourth state habeas corpus petition. The federal court habeas process was completed on October 11, 2005, when the United States Supreme Court denied Williams' writ of certiorari.
The claim that Williams received an unfair trial was the subject of this extensive litigation in the state and federal courts. The courts considered the sufficiency of his counsel, the strategic nature of counsel's decisions during the penalty phase of Williams' trial, the adequacy and reliability of testimony from informants, whether Williams was prejudiced by security measures employed during his trial, whether he was competent to stand trial, whether the prosecutor impermissibly challenged potential jurors on the basis of race, and whether his jury was improperly influenced by Williams' threats made against them. There is no need to rehash or second guess the myriad findings of the courts over 24 years of litigation.
The possible irregularities in Williams' trial have been thoroughly and carefully reviewed by the courts, and there is no reason to disturb the judicial decisions that uphold the jury's decisions that he is guilty of these four murders and should pay with his life.
The basis of Williams' clemency request is not innocence. Rather, the basis of the request is the "personal redemption Stanley Williams has experienced and the positive impact of the message he sends" (quoting Williams' own clemency reply). But Williams' claim of innocence remains a key factor to evaluating his claim of personal redemption. It is impossible to separate Williams' claim of innocence from his claim of redemption.
Cumulatively, the evidence demonstrating Williams is guilty of these murders is strong and compelling. It includes: (1) eyewitness testimony of Alfred Coward, who was one of Williams' accomplices in the 7-Eleven shooting; (2) ballistics evidence proving that the shotgun casing found at the scene of the motel murders was fired from Williams' shotgun; (3) testimony from Samuel Coleman that Williams confessed that he had robbed and killed some people on Vermont Street (where the motel was located); (4) testimony from James and Esther Garrett that Williams admitted to them that he committed both sets of murders; and (5) testimony from jailhouse informant George Oglesby that Williams confessed to the motel murders and conspired with Oglesby to escape from county jail.
The trial evidence is bolstered by information from Tony Sims, who has admitted to being an accomplice in the 7-Eleven murder. Sims did not testify against Williams at trial, but he was later convicted of murder for his role in Albert Owens' death. During his trial and subsequent parole hearings, Sims has repeatedly stated under oath that Williams was the shooter.
Based on the cumulative weight of the evidence, there is no reason to second guess the jury's decision of guilt or raise significant doubts or serious reservations about Williams' convictions and death sentence. He murdered Albert Owens and Yen-I Yang, Yee-Chen Lin and Tsai-Shai Lin in cold blood in two separate incidents that were just weeks apart.
But Williams claims that he is particularly deserving of clemency because he has reformed and been redeemed for his violent past. Williams' claim of redemption triggers an inquiry into his atonement for all his transgressions. Williams protests that he has no reason to apologize for these murders because he did not commit them. But he is guilty, and a close look at Williams' post-arrest and post-conviction conduct tells a story that is different from redemption.
After Williams was arrested for these crimes, and while he was awaiting trial, he conspired to escape from custody by blowing up a jail transportation bus and killing the deputies guarding the bus. There are detailed escape plans in Williams' own handwriting. Williams never executed this plan, but his co-conspirator implicated Williams in the scheme. The fact that Williams conspired to murder several others to effectuate his escape from jail while awaiting his murder trial is consistent with guilt, not innocence. And the timing of the motel murders less than two weeks after the murder of Albert Owens shows a callous disregard for human life.
Williams has written books that instruct readers to avoid the gang lifestyle and to stay out of prison. In 1996, a Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence children's book series was published. In 1998, "Life in Prison" was published. In 2004, Williams published a memoir entitled "Blue Rage, Black Redemption." He has also recently (since 1995) tried to preach a message of gang avoidance and peacemaking, including a protocol for street peace to be used by opposing gangs.
It is hard to assess the effect of such efforts in concrete terms, but the continued pervasiveness of gang violence leads one to question the efficacy of Williams' message. Williams co-founded the Crips, a notorious street gang that has contributed and continues to contribute to predatory and exploitative violence.
The dedication of Williams' book "Life in Prison" casts significant doubt on his personal redemption. This book was published in 1998, several years after Williams' claimed redemptive experience. Specifically, the book is dedicated to "Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Ramona Africa, John Africa, Leonard Peltier, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid, George Jackson, Mumia Abu-Jamal and the countless other men, women and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars." The mix of individuals on this list is curious. Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement. But the inclusion of George Jackson (a militant activist who founded the Black Guerilla Family prison gang and was charged with the murder of a San Quentin prison guard) on this list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems.
There is also little mention or atonement in his writings and his plea for clemency of the countless murders committed by the Crips following the lifestyle Williams once espoused. The senseless killing that has ruined many families, particularly in African-American communities, in the name of the Crips and gang warfare is a tragedy of our modern culture. One would expect more explicit and direct reference to this byproduct of his former lifestyle in Williams' writings and apology for this tragedy, but it exists only through innuendo and inference.
Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise? Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not and should not apologize or otherwise atone for the murders of the four victims in this case. Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption. 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.
Clemency decisions are always difficult, and this one is no exception. After reviewing and weighing the showing Williams has made in support of his clemency request, there is nothing that compels me to nullify the jury's decision of guilt and sentence and the many court decisions during the last 24 years upholding the jury's decision with a grant of clemency.
Therefore, based on the totality of circumstances in this case, Williams' request for clemency is denied.
Is he dead yet?
Good. I was ready to throw Arnie under the bus if he had granted the thug clemency.
There is not retribution they can do to bring the lives back, or heal the loved ones wounds. Perhaps God can forgive them...and I believe they should be given their audience with Him as soon as possible after being proved guilty of such heinous crimes.
I believe the same of vilent rapist and sexual abusers, particularly of children.
I read this on another thread. I thought it very well reasoned, and, as the article says, blunt. It makes the point that without atonement, there can be no redemption.
2 hours to go.
Took, took, Tookie goodbye!
Reformation is to save one's soul, not one's life.
It doesn't matter if he truly changed or not. Sinner or saint - his fate has been written in the blood of his victims.
I do believe they can reform, but that does not mean they do not have to pay the penalty for what they have done.
Remember Karla Tucker? She became an avid Christian and totally changed. But somehow I sense that many who heartily took up William's cause were lukewarm about Tuckers; after all, one was a politically correct figure and one was merely a radical Chrisian...
In Tucker's case, Bush as gov of TX refused her clemency.
I see old Jessie "Gotta' get my ugly face in front of the cameras" Jackson, who, by the way, never met an unborn baby that he felt deserving of clemency, is down there to stoke a few flames and probably get the rioting going. What a circus!
Hey, Jessie, just where is your church that you're a Rev of? You are a Reverend, aren't you? Does the fact that you never finished divinity school prohibit you from getting a congregation?
What an immense photo-op for the washed up actors and lefties! Kinda' like a big commie prom night!
Governor Didn't Believe Williams Had Reformed
----Arnold didn't believe it because Tookie Williams has no remorse for anything he has done.
It will be God in Heaven who passes judgement on him.
If Tookie was so concerned about what kids learn...like that he reformed, he would also understand and welcome the opportunity to teach them this last lesson...that you are responsible and will pay for your crimes.
Our justice system provides all kinds of opportunities for those who deserve a second chance, but cold blooded multiple murderers have either failed to take advantage of the first second chance, or have absolutely no regard for human life whatsoever.
I believe Tookie Williams is best described as someone who took pleasure in killing his White victims, and if Tookie Williams was a white guy, who killed 4 black people, he would've been charged with Hate Crimes and been executed years ago
Yea thats what I say. The sentence was handed out not because he was a "bad man" but because he murdered four people! No amount of redemption is going to change that fact.
That same God will pass judgement on him too...and every other individual who ever has or will walk the face of this earth.
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