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Killer Loses Bid to High Court

U.S. Supreme Court declines to review the case of Stanley 'Tookie' Williams. He could be executed in December if further appeals fail.

October 12, 2005|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to review the case of California death-row inmate Stanley "Tookie" Williams, setting the stage for his possible execution in December.

Without comment or recorded dissent, the justices denied the appeal of Williams, founder of the Crips gang in Los Angeles and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who won acclaim for a series of books he co-wrote from prison urging children to reject gang life.

Twelve people have been executed in California since the state resumed executions in 1978. A spokesman for state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer said Williams could be one of three men executed within a short period beginning in December.

Williams, who has maintained he is innocent, was convicted on four counts of robbery and murder arising from two crimes that took place days apart in 1979. Williams was convicted in the shotgun murder of a 7-Eleven employee during a robbery in which he and three others split $120. He was also convicted of killing two Los Angeles motel owners and their daughter two days later.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday December 15, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 57 words Type of Material: Correction
California executions -- An article in the Oct. 12 California section said 12 people had been executed in the state since 1978 before Stanley Tookie Williams died by lethal injection Tuesday. Before Williams, 11 prisoners were executed in California and one -- Kevin Malone, who had committed murders in California and Missouri -- was executed in Missouri.

During the appeals process, attorneys for Williams argued that the prosecutor made a concerted effort to keep blacks off the jury, first by moving the case to predominantly white Torrance and then by removing three African American panelists.

"Obviously, we are very disappointed with the [high court's] decision and we are looking at other options in terms of what to file, whether in the California Supreme Court or in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals," said Andrea Asaro, Williams' San Francisco-based appellate attorney.

If those efforts are unsuccessful, she said, a legal team is in place to "focus on clemency" from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Previous appeals by Williams have been rejected by the California Supreme Court, a federal district judge in Los Angeles, and a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The latter, however, suggested that Williams might be a good candidate for clemency because of his "laudable efforts opposing gang violence from his prison cell."

Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin said the Supreme Court decision affirmed years of careful consideration: "Today's decision is the culmination of two decades' worth of state and federal court scrutiny of William's conviction and sentence. And every court that has heard his legal arguments has rejected them."

Barbara Cottman Becnel, who wrote nine children's books with Williams urging youths not to get involved with gangs, decried the high court's decision but said the fight for her friend's innocence would continue.

"We absolutely intend to fight for clemency and to prove innocence," she said. "And there will be legal documents filed very soon to support that claim."

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