In the early morning hours of February 28, 1979, Williams and three
friends were riding around in two cars, smoking PCP-laced cigarettes,
looking to "make some money."
After making two unsuccessful
restaurant and liquor store robbery attempts, they eventually went
to a 7-Eleven store where 26 year old Army veteran and father of two,
Albert Lewis Owens, was working the overnight shift and sweeping the
Armed with a shotgun, Williams led Owens to the back
room of the store. While one of the companions emptied the cash
register drawer and took $120, the defendant ordererd Owens to get
on his knees and then shot him twice in the back with the shotgun.
Williams said later that he did so to eliminate witnesses. One of
his accomplices testified at trial that Williams later made fun of
the noises made by Owens when he was shot, causing Williams to laugh
Eleven days later, at about 5:30 a.m., Williams and another man
broke down the door and entered the Brookhaven Motel at 10411 South
Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles and shot to death 76-year old Thsai
Shai Young, his 63-year old wife Yen-I Yang and their 43-year old
daughter Ye Chen Lin. He took $50 in cash and left.
Williams and Raymond Washington co-founded the Crips, a street
gang, in 1971. While incarcerated on Death Row, Williams gained
notoriety by authoring children's books with an anti-gang message
and promoting peace.
In recent years, he was nominated for the Nobel
Prize in Literature and for Peace. He gained unparalelled support
from celebrities and anti-death penalty activists, including Mike
Farrell, Jesse Jackson, Jamie Foxx, and others who argued that his
work and redemption on death row merited a reprieve from execution.
In re Williams, 7 Cal.4th 572, 29 Cal.Rptr.2d 64 (Cal. 1994)
People v. Williams, 44 Cal.3d 1127, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635 (Cal.
1988) (Direct Appeal).
Williams v. Woodford, 384 F.3d 567 (9th Cir. 2004) (Habeas).
California Department of Corrections
Inmate: Williams, Stanley (CDC #C29300 )
Date Received: April 20, 1981
Education: 12th Grade
Location: San Quentin
Marital Status: Single
County of Trial: Los Angeles
Offense Date: March 11, 1979
Sentence: Four counts of first-degree murder with special
Date of Sentence: April 20, 1981
Case #: A194636
Children: Stanley Williams Jr. (Serving a 16-year sentence at High
Desert State Prison for second-degree murder)
DEATH WATCH AT SAN QUENTIN
Tookie Williams Is Executed; The
killer of four and Crips co-founder is given a lethal injection
after Schwarzenegger denies clemency. He never admitted his guilt,"
By Jenifer Warren and Maura Dolan -
Los Angeles Times
December 13, 2005
Stanley Tookie Williams, whose self-described evolution from gang
thug to antiviolence crusader won him an international following and
nominations for a Nobel Peace Prize, was executed by lethal
injection early today, hours after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
refused to spare his life. His death was announced at 12:35 a.m.
During the execution, the inmate’s friend Barbara Becnel and
other supporters mouthed "God bless you" and "We love you" and blew
kisses to Williams. Williams also seemed to mouth statements to
Becnel. The entire procedure took longer than usual. The execution
team took about 12 minutes to find a vein in Williams’ muscular left
arm. While the personnel were probing, Williams repeatedly lifted
his head off the gurney, winced visibly, and at one point appeared
to say: "Still can’t find it?"
After Williams was pronounced dead,
Becnel and two other supporters of Williams turned toward the media
in the witness room and yelled in unison, "The state of California
just killed an innocent man!" Lora Owens, murder victim Albert Owens’
stepmother, appeared shaken, and was embraced by another woman.
Outside the gates of San Quentin as midnight approached, speakers
urged calm. There was a moment of tension when a Williams’ friend,
Fred Jackson, told the crowd, "It’s all over." Angry shouts broke
out. A woman sobbed on someone’s shoulder, and a man burned an
American flag. As Jackson continued to urge calm, the crowd
dispersed. Speaking outside the gates of San Quentin after the
execution, Becnel, who is taking possession of Williams’ body,
called Schwarzenegger a "cold-blooded murderer" and vowed to work
for his defeat in the next election.
Despite persistent pleas for mercy from around the globe, the
governor earlier in the day had said Williams was unworthy of
clemency because he had not admitted his brutal shotgun murders of
four people during two robberies 26 years ago. After the U.S.
Supreme Court denied a request for a last-minute stay Monday
evening, the co-founder of the infamous Crips street gang — who
insisted he was innocent of the murders — became the 12th man
executed by the state of California since voters reinstated capital
punishment in 1978.
With its racial overtones and compelling theme — society’s
dueling goals of redemption and retribution — the case provoked more
controversy than any California execution in a generation, and
became a magnet for attention and media worldwide. A long list of
prominent supporters — as disparate as South African Bishop Desmond
Tutu and rapper Snoop Dogg — rallied to Williams’ cause.
But in a strongly worded rejection of Williams’ request for
clemency, Schwarzenegger said he saw no need to rehash or
second-guess the many court decisions already rendered in the case,
and he questioned the death row inmate’s claims of atonement.
Williams, the governor said in a statement, never admitted guilt,
plotted to kill law enforcement officers after his capture, and made
little mention in his writings of the scourge of gang killings,
which the statement called "a tragedy of our modern culture."
As night descended Monday, about 1,000 demonstrators who gathered
on a tree-lined street leading to the gates of San Quentin State
Prison endured frosty temperatures to protest the execution. Joan
Baez sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" as speakers urged participants
to keep fighting. Small clumps of people in scarves and gloves held
candles and sang hymns, while others wandered off alone, gazing into
the bay. There were small, scattered protests around the state,
including a candlelight vigil Monday night in Leimert Park.
A few death penalty supporters also turned out at San Quentin.
Scuffles and shoving matches broke out on occasion, but no serious
incidents were reported.
Behind the prison’s thick walls, Williams passed his dwindling
hours quietly, visiting with friends and talking on the telephone
while under constant watch by guards. An acquaintance described him
sitting at a table, handcuffed, next to untouched turkey sandwiches,
bidding goodbye to friends in an ordinary, everyday manner. A prison
spokesman said Williams was calm and upbeat, though he ate nothing
but oatmeal and milk all day, refusing the privilege of a special
last meal. Williams also declined a spiritual advisor.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he met twice with Williams, and
together with Becnel delivered the news that the governor had denied
clemency. Williams smiled "as if he expected it," Jackson said. He
said Williams again denied his guilt, and said that he thought "his
baggage as a Crip was on trial more than for the four murders."
In recent statements, Williams had expressed a philosophical
attitude about his own death. Fred Jackson, 67, who works with
Internet Project for Street Peace, Williams’ gang intervention
project, said the inmate struck that tone in a phone conference with
an Oakland support group Sunday. "He said he doesn’t fear death — he
doesn’t fear what he does not know," Jackson said.
At 6 p.m., Williams was strip-searched, given a set of clean
clothes and placed in a holding cell steps from the death chamber
under nonstop observation by a sergeant and two officers. Officials
said he spent the evening watching TV and reading some of the
roughly 50 letters that arrived Monday from as far as Italy and
Israel — including some from schoolchildren. Many of them said they
were praying for him. Nearby, the injection team began its final
preparations in the prison’s converted gas chamber, ensuring that
the required needles, tubes and chemicals were in place.
Williams’ son, Stanley Williams Jr., who is in High Desert State
Prison serving a 16-year sentence for second-degree murder, will be
notified in person of his father’s death by a chaplain and mental
health specialist, prison officials said. The younger Williams is in
isolation for disciplinary problems, and would not normally have
access to any news source.
Five members of the murder victims’ families were at the prison,
although it was not clear how many witnessed the execution. Williams,
who earlier said he didn’t want to invite anyone to observe "the
sick and perverted spectacle," had five witnesses, including Becnel
and members of his legal team. Officials designated a total of 39
witnesses, including 17 media representatives.
Lora Owens said she did not expect the execution to end the ache
over losing her red-haired stepson, Albert, who was killed with a
shotgun at the age of 26 while working at a Pico Rivera 7-Eleven
late one February night in 1979. But watching the killer take his
last breath, she said, might help her "let it go" just a bit.
Advocates for clemency had argued that Williams had unmatched
credibility as a messenger urging youths to say no to gangs. But law
enforcement officials and victims’ rights leaders portrayed Williams
as a fraud whose influence on would-be gangsters was overblown.
Prosecutors said the absence of a confession, and Williams’
refusal to formally cut ties with the Crips by sharing his knowledge
of gang tactics with police, disproved his claim of rehabilitation.
"What kind of message does that send to young children, when
somebody like Mr. Williams, who supposedly has their attention,
tells them, ‘Don’t snitch, don’t talk to police, don’t tell people
who was involved in a crime?’." said John Monaghan, a Los Angeles
County deputy district attorney.
As Schwarzenegger weighed his decision, attorneys for Williams
spent the weekend hunting for a court that might issue a stay. On
Sunday, the state Supreme Court turned back arguments that his trial
was "fundamentally unfair" in part because prosecutors had failed to
disclose that a key witness, Alfred Coward, was a violent ex-felon.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and finally the U.S. Supreme
Court followed suit Monday.
After the governor rejected clemency, lawyers asked
Schwarzenegger for a stay on the basis of three witnesses who they
said had come forward just this week with exculpatory information.
But Schwarzenegger again delivered a rebuff. Just before 9:30 p.m.,
Williams lawyers filed another petition, citing a fourth purported
witness who claimed other inmates tried to recruit him into a scheme
to frame Williams. The governor denied that, too.
Born in New Orleans, Stanley Tookie Williams III was named for
his father but raised by his mother. Hoping to escape poverty and
crime in Louisiana, the family moved to South Los Angeles in 1959.
He spent his youth as a delinquent, rebounding in and out of Central
Juvenile Hall. In his writings, he admitted that he was a
megalomaniac who beat, robbed and shot at the innocent. By the
1970s, Williams was viewed as one of the more menacing toughs in
South Los Angeles, weighing 300 pounds with biceps measuring 22
inches. In a move he said he regretted more than any other, he
helped launch the Crips — originally called the Cribs — and began
terrorizing the streets.
On Feb. 27, 1979, he and three cohorts smoked cigarettes laced
with PCP and, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber
handgun, set out on a late-night search for a place to rob,
according to court documents. They wound up at the 7-Eleven where
Owens, a father of two and Army veteran, was working the overnight
shift. Owens was shot twice in the back.
Less than two weeks later, Williams broke down the door at the
Brookhaven Motel and killed the motel’s owners, Taiwanese immigrants
Yen-I Yang, his wife, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, and their daughter, Yu
Chin Yang Lin, who was visiting. The two robberies netted $220.
In 1981, a jury in Torrance convicted Williams, landing him on
death row. Initially his conduct was disruptive: "I gave this place
hell," he acknowledged in an interview. While in solitary
confinement, however, he began a transformation, Williams said. At
first he read voraciously — the Bible, the dictionary, philosophy,
black history — and struggled to understand his past.
By 1992, Williams was a changed man, he said, deeply remorseful
for the bloody rampage the Crips had perpetrated across America —
and for the gang life that lured in one of his two sons. In 1994,
Williams left solitary confinement and declared himself a champion
With the help of Becnel, he wrote a series of books warning
youths away from violence and brokered gang truces in Los Angeles
and New Jersey. Last year, his life became the subject of a TV movie,
"Redemption," starring Jamie Foxx, and his imposing appearance
gradually gave way to a graying beard and spectacles. Reached by
phone at her Los Angeles home as the execution was underway,
Williams’ ex-wife, Bonnie Williams Taylor, said, "This is an awful
time. I want to be with my family."
Earlier in the evening, dozens of people had gathered in Leimert
Park in Los Angeles to oppose the execution. But the speakers who
addressed them focused more on healing crime in black communities
than on Williams’ plight. "We have to understand," said African
American activist Eric Wattree, 53, speaking to a mostly black crowd
early in the evening, "this is our failure taking place here."
Times staff writers Dan Morain and Steve Chawkins in San Quentin
and Jill Leovy, Lisa Richardson, Greg Krikorian, Louis Sahagun and
Carla Hall in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Warden: Williams frustrated at end; Crips gang co-founder put to
death for 4 murders
CNN Law Center
Dec 13, 2005
SAN QUENTIN, California (CNN) -- Death did not come quickly for
Stanley Tookie Williams, the co-founder of the violent Crips street
gang who was executed by lethal injection early Tuesday for the 1979
robbery murders of four people in Los Angeles.
Witnesses and prison officials said Williams appeared to grow
impatient as prison staffers searched for several minutes for a vein
in his muscular left arm. Authorities began the process to
administer the lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. (3:01 a.m. ET) in the
execution chamber at San Quentin. His death was announced 34 minutes
later. (Watch a bulletin of Williams' death -- :40) "He did seem
frustrated that it didn't go as quickly as he thought it might,"
said San Quentin State Prison Warden Steven Ornoski.
Williams, 51, acknowledged a violent past but maintained he was
innocent of the slayings. He became an anti-gang crusader while on
death row. It was the second execution in California this year, and
the 12th since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s. "He
had a just punishment," said Lora Owens, stepmother of one of
Williams' victims and a witness to the execution. "Now I just want
to get on," she told CNN on Tuesday. (Watch victim's stepmother talk
about execution -- 3:54)
Williams' case set off intense debate over capital punishment and
redemption, with celebrities, activists and anti-death penalty
advocates saying his initiatives and anti-gang message from behind
bars meant his life was worth saving. Williams had been nominated
for the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature by an
array of college professors, a Swiss lawmaker and others.
Difficulty inserting needle
Seventeen reporters witnessed the execution and gave their accounts
afterward. (Watch the witnesses describe Williams' last minutes --
They said inserting the IVs to administer the lethal chemicals
took nearly 20 minutes, with staff having particular difficulty
getting a needle into Williams' left arm. Witness Crystal Carreon of
the Sacramento Bee said Williams was restless during the
preparations. Another witness, Kim Curtis, a reporter for The
Associated Press, said Williams appeared to say, "You doing that
right?" as prison staffers searched for a vein. Los Angeles Times
columnist Steve Lopez said Williams offered "no resistance," but
raised his head several times and looked toward his supporters and
the press gallery.
Some witnesses said Williams appeared to wince when the needle
found its mark. Three of Williams' invited supporters shouted in
unison, "The state of California just killed an innocent man," as
they exited the gallery after his death. Minutes earlier, reporters
said, at least one of the three had given Williams a raised fist
Clemency, appeals denied
The execution went ahead as scheduled after the U.S. Supreme Court
late Monday rejected a last-ditch appeal. The high court's ruling
followed California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to deny
clemency for Williams. "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," Schwarzenegger said in a
five-page statement explaining his decision.
Before Williams went to the execution chamber, Owens said she
felt "justice is going to be done tonight." "I had faith that when
Governor Arnold (Schwarzenegger) looked at the facts of the case
that he was going to decide not to do clemency," said Owens, whose
stepson, Albert Owens, was shot to death in a convenience store
holdup. "I don't like it being said it's a political decision," she
added. "It was an evidence decision."
Williams had maintained his innocence since his arrest and
conviction in the 1979 slayings. He denounced gang violence and
wrote children's books with an anti-gang message, donating the
proceeds to anti-gang community groups. One of his lawyers, Peter
Fleming, called the governor's decision to deny clemency
"wrongheaded." (Watch the lawyer's reaction -- 5:00) As Williams was
being moved to a holding cell next to the death chamber Monday
evening, his lead attorney, John Harris, had said the convict was
Protesters outside the gates
A crowd of demonstrators gathered outside the gates of the prison
Monday evening, with celebrities, activists and anti-death-penalty
advocates pleading for Williams' life to be spared. (Watch the San
Quentin protest -- 1:38) "I am saddened that we are continuing to
demean human life by pretending that we are God and making
determinations to kill other individuals for what it is claimed they
have done," former "M*A*S*H" star and death penalty opponent Mike
Farrell told CNN.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who visited with Williams,
said Schwarzenegger decided "to choose revenge over redemption and
to use Tookie Williams as a trophy in the flawed system." "To kill
him is a way of making politicians look tough," Jackson said. "It
does not make it right. It does not make any of us safer. It does
not make any of us more secure."
Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and prominent death
penalty opponent, compared the death penalty to "gang justice."
"Gang justice is, if you kill a member of our gang, we kill you --
and don't tell me anything about how you changed your life or what
you're going to do," she said. "You kill, and we kill you. And
that's what the United States of America is doing with this."
But Schwarzenegger questioned the sincerity of Williams'
conversion to nonviolence. "Is Williams' redemption complete and
sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?" Schwarzenegger wrote. "Without
an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings
there can be no redemption." He added: "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."
Barbara Becnel, the editor of Williams' books, pledged that his
supporters would not give up their fight to prove Williams'
innocence. "We are going to prove his innocence, and when we do, we
are going to show that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is, in fact,
himself a cold blooded murderer," Becnel said.
Prosecutor: Evidence 'rock solid'
Williams was sentenced to death in 1981 in the killing of Owens, a
26-year-old Los Angeles convenience store clerk. The clerk was shot
twice in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun while face-down on the
floor. Less than two weeks after Owens' February 1979 slaying,
jurors concluded, Williams killed an immigrant Chinese couple and
their 41-year-old daughter while stealing less than $100 in cash
from their motel. Robert Martin, one of the prosecutors who sent
Williams to prison, said the courts "have scrutinized this from
every angle and they've found that the evidence is rock solid."
He questioned whether there was any moral equivalence "between co-authoring
some children's books and the senseless murder of four people in
cold blood." "The books will live on," Martin told CNN. "We have
many authors who have died, and their books are still in print. And
if they have any good effect, that can continue. So I don't believe
that that is a conclusive argument."
CNN's Ted Rowlands, Kareen Wynter and Bill Mears contributed to
WILLIAMS EXECUTED; Gang co-founder put to death for 1979 murders
of 4 in L.A. area
By Stacy Finz, Peter Fimrite, Kevin Fagan -
San Francisco Chronicle
December 13, 2005
Stanley Tookie Williams, a gangster who became an anti-gang
crusader in prison and the focus of a furious clash between
advocates of punishment and redemption, was executed by lethal
injection early today for four 1979 Los Angeles-area murders that he
Williams, 51, was pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m. at San Quentin
State Prison, where he had spent nearly half his life. His execution
had been all but assured Monday when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
denied clemency, saying, "The facts do not justify overturning the
jury's verdict or the decisions of the courts in this case."
Williams offered no resistance as he was strapped to the gurney
in the death chamber but appeared exasperated as prison officials
hooked him up to the intravenous tubes that injected the poison,
according to reporters who witnessed the execution. One reporter
said it took 36 minutes from when Williams was brought into the
chamber for him to be pronounced dead. At one point, Williams looked
around and appeared to ask, "You doing that right?" said Kim Curtis
of the Associated Press.
A total of 39 people watched Williams die, including a few he
invited to be witnesses. Three of them raised their fists in salute
as Williams looked at them and afterward yelled, "The state of
California just killed an innocent man," said Chronicle reporter
Kevin Fagan. Lora Owens, stepmother of one of Williams' murder
victims, burst into tears at the outburst.
Williams spent his last hours in a 45-square-foot "death watch"
cell, where he was given a new set of clothes -- jeans and a blue
work shirt -- to change into before being escorted to the death
chamber. While in the cell, Williams spoke by phone with his
attorneys as the governor and courts rejected last-minute requests
for a stay. He also had access to a television set, but wasn't
watching, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Outside the prison gates, about 2,000 death-penalty protesters
prayed for a last-minute reprieve, while a few motorists shouted
from their car windows, "Kill him." Inside, Williams remained
composed, forgoing his final meal and opting only for a couple of
small cartons of milk. "He has been very calm, very quiet and very
respectful of the staff," said Todd Slosek, another spokesman for
Williams' morning started with a bowl of oatmeal, and during the
day he met with his lawyers and six visitors, including the Rev.
Jesse Jackson, who had publicly spoken out for him. The condemned
man had his visitors brought into his cell one at a time and gave
them "his formal goodbyes," Thornton said. "And after that, he
gathered them all as a group and addressed them all. "Some of them
looked close to tears and some of them looked angry," Thornton said,
relaying what guards had said of the witnesses.
A prison chaplain was available to Williams if he had requested
spiritual counsel, but he did not, Thornton said. He also did not
request a sedative before the execution, though one was available,
she said. Williams did, however, ask that five witnesses be present
at his execution. Earlier he had said he didn't want anyone he knew
to see him die, but apparently he had a change of heart.
Williams is the 12th person put to death in California since the
state resumed executions in 1992 after a 25-year suspension because
of court rulings. No capital case in the state had stirred such
national and international attention since Caryl Chessman -- like
Williams, an author of books from Death Row -- was executed in the
gas chamber in 1960 for rape and kidnapping.
To his supporters, Williams was a man who had turned his life
around in prison, writing eight children's books denouncing gang
life. Last week Williams was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for
the sixth straight year, by a philosophy professor at Notre Dame de
Namur University in Belmont who opposes the death penalty. Williams'
books for children and young people have also been nominated four
times for the Nobel Prize for literature.
But to others Williams was an archvillain who co-founded the
violent Crips street gang and unleashed a crime wave that changed
His lawyers tried frantically until the end to find a way to save
him. Just two hours before Tuesday's execution, they pleaded with
Schwarzenegger for a 60-day stay, arguing that in the 11th hour a
witness had surfaced who could shed new light on the case. Earlier
in the day, they said three jailhouse witnesses had come forward
this week with evidence that could show Williams had been framed for
the four shotgun murders that put him on Death Row.
But the governor, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San
Francisco and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected all the defense
efforts to spare Williams' life. "Clemency cases are always
difficult, and this one is no exception," Schwarzenegger wrote in a
six-page statement rejecting Williams' bid to have his sentence
commuted to life without the possibility of parole. "After studying
the evidence, searching the history, listening to the arguments and
wrestling with the profound consequences, I could find no
justification for granting clemency. The facts do not justify
overturning the jury's verdict or the decisions of the courts in
Williams said he was a changed man and of value to society
because of his anti-gang writings from behind bars. Schwarzenegger
noted, however, that Williams had never apologized for the murders.
Williams maintained he did not commit them. "Without an apology and
atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no
redemption," Schwarzenegger said. "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.''
A native of New Orleans who grew up in South Central Los Angeles,
Williams started the Crips gang with a friend in 1971, when he was
16. According to state prison files, he had juvenile convictions for
drugs and auto theft in 1970, was sent to a youth detention camp,
quit high school in 1971 and later spent two years in junior
college. At the time of the murders in 1979, he had no adult felony
The first victim, Albert Owens, 26, a clerk at a 7-Eleven store
in Whittier, was ordered to lie on the floor and then was shot in
the back during a $120 robbery on Feb. 28, 1979. One of the robbers,
Alfred Coward, granted immunity from prosecution, testified that
Williams had fired the fatal shots and laughed about it afterward.
Williams reportedly told friends, "You should have heard the way he
sounded when I shot him."
On March 11, 1979, Yen-I Yang, 76, and Tsai-Shai Yang, 63, owners
of the Brookhaven Motel in Los Angeles, and their daughter, Yee-Chen
Lin, 43, were shot to death during a $100 robbery. A sheriff's
expert testified that a shell casing found at the scene matched
Williams' shotgun. Other prosecution witnesses said Williams had
admitted committing both crimes, and that he had referred to the
motel victims as "Buddha-heads."
Williams, convicted and sentenced to death in 1981, maintained
that he was railroaded by witnesses who lied in exchange for
leniency in their own criminal cases, by a faulty ballistics test,
and by a prosecutor who removed three African Americans from the
jury and told jurors that seeing Williams in court was like
observing a Bengal tiger in a zoo.
State and federal courts rejected each of his appeals, although
federal judges described the evidence as less than airtight, and a
three-judge federal panel said he might be a worthy candidate for
Williams, who was seen mouthing a threat to the jury after the
guilty verdict, remained a violent man during his early years in
prison, assaulting inmates and guards and spending six years in
solitary confinement, from 1988 to 1994. But as he later described
it, during that period he began reading widely and reflecting on his
life, and resolved to prevent gang violence.
Williams taped a message from prison in April 1993 that was
broadcast to Los Angeles gang members at a "peace summit.'' With the
help of Barbara Becnel, a writer he met in prison who became his
champion, he started work on eight books for children that were
published in 1996 as a series called, "Tookie Speaks Out Against
Gang Violence.'' He followed with "Life in Prison'' in 1998 and a
memoir, "Blue Rage, Black Redemption,'' in 2004 and was working on
two more books before his execution.
He spoke regularly from prison
to youths and educators, and posted a model "peace protocol'' for
gangs, which supporters say was widely used, on his Web site in
2000. "Redemption,'' a television movie starting Jamie Foxx in a
sympathetic portrayal of Williams, aired in 2004.
Assertions by Williams' supporters of success for his peacemaking
efforts drew skepticism from some researchers, who found no decline
in killings after gang peace summits. But individual testimonials
abounded from youths who said Williams changed their lives.
Stanley "Tookie" Williams
"The only people who would have been happy with clemency were
people who likely wouldn't support him anyway.'' -- Dan Schnur, a
Stanley Tookie Williams "feels any acts of violence would
undermine his legacy of anti-violence. He wants to be remembered
with dignity, as a social transformer." -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson
"This is less about Tookie and more about the criminal justice
system. We spend so much energy on young men of color, while
corporate criminals who ruin millions of lives go unchallenged." --
The Rev. Christopher Craethnenn, marching with anti-death penalty
"Who's going to stop the killings now? Is (the governor) going to
write some books? Is he going to go down to L.A. and get some help
and hope to the kids in the Crips?" -- James Richards, San
Francisco, a member of a group that works with young men in the
"The ones who went from predators to peacemakers, they are the
only guys who can talk to these kids and make them listen." --
Constance Rice, a civil rights lawyer and death penalty opponent
The governor "clearly focused on the main issue: Is this person
guilty? Beyond that, the other issues seemed to be academic.'' --
Michael Rushford of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal
Foundation, on Schwarzenegger's refusal of clemency
Pope, many Europeans express outrage over
execution of 'Tookie' Williams
CBC World News
Dec 13, 2005
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - The execution of convicted murderer
Stanley (Tookie) Williams in California on Tuesday outraged many in
Europe, who regard the practice as barbaric, and feelings ran
particularly high in Austria, the homeland of Gov. Arnold
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict's top official for justice matters
denounced the death penalty for going against redemption and human
dignity. "We know the death penalty doesn't resolve anything,"
Renato Cardinal Martino told Associated Press Television News. "Even
a criminal is worthy of respect because he is a human being. The
death penalty is a negation of human dignity."
Capital punishment is illegal throughout the European Union, and
many Europeans consider state-sponsored executions to be barbaric.
Those feelings were amplified in the case of Williams, due to the
apparent remorse they believe the Crips gang co-founder showed by
writing children's books about the dangers of gangs and violence.
Leaders of Austria's pacifist Green party went as far as to call
for Schwarzenegger to be stripped of his Austrian citizenship - a
demand that was rejected by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. "Whoever,
out of political calculation, allows the death of a person
rehabilitated in such an exemplary manner has rejected the basic
values of Austrian society," said Peter Pilz, a Greens leader.
In Graz, Schwarzenegger's hometown, local Greens said they would
file a petition to remove the governor's name from the southern
city's Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium. A Christian political group
went even further, suggesting it be renamed the "Stanley Tookie
Williams Stadium." "Mr. Williams had converted and, unlike Mr.
Schwarzenegger, opposed every form of violence," said Richard
Schadauer, the chairman of the Association of Christianity and
Williams was executed Tuesday morning at California's San Quentin
State Prison after Schwarzenegger denied Williams' request for
clemency. Schwarzenegger suggested that Williams' supposed change of
heart was not genuine because he had not shown any real remorse for
killings committed by the Crips.
Criticism came quickly from many quarters, including the
Socialist party in France, where the death penalty was abolished in
1981. "I am proud to be a Frenchman," party spokesman Julien Dray
told RTL radio. "I am proud to live in France, in a country where we
don't execute somebody 21 years later." "Schwarzenegger has a lot of
muscles, but apparently not much heart," Dray added.
In Italy, the country's chapter of Amnesty International called
the execution of Williams "a cold-blooded murder." "His execution is
a slap in the face to the principle of rehabilitation of inmates, an
inhumane and inclement act toward a person who, with his exemplary
behaviour and his activity in favour of street kids, had become an
important figure and a symbol of hope for many youths," the group
said in a statement.
In Germany, Volker Beck, a leading member of the opposition
Greens party, expressed disappointment. "Schwarzenegger's decision
is a cowardly decision," Beck told the Netzeitung online newspaper.
From London, Clive Stafford-Smith, a human rights lawyer
specializing in death penalty cases, called the execution "very sad."
"He was twice as old as when they sentenced him to die, and he
certainly wasn't the same person that he was when he was sentenced,"
Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni, called it "a sad day" and said the
city would keep Williams in its memory the next time it celebrated a
victory against the death penalty somewhere in the world. Rome's
Colosseum, once the arena for deadly gladiator combat and executions,
has become a symbol of Italy's anti-death penalty stance. Since
1999, the monument has been bathed in golden light every time a
death sentence is commuted somewhere in the world or a country
abolishes capital punishment. "I hope there will be such an occasion
soon," Veltroni said in a statement. "When it happens, we will do it
with a special thought for Tookie."
Tookie Williams elusive in death row debate
By Dan Whitcomb - Reuters News
Dec 12, 2005
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Is Stanley Tookie Williams a cold-blooded
killer who has duped Hollywood with feigned innocence, phony
assertions of redemption and embellished claims of his sway over
gangland Los Angeles to escape execution?
Or is Williams, who is scheduled to die shortly after midnight, a
wrongly convicted man who nevertheless devoted a quarter century in
prison to troubled kids, saving 150,000 lives from behind bars in a
campaign worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize?
The debate over the most discussed U.S. execution in recent
memory hinges on the wildly divergent views of the 51-year-old man
who sits on San Quentin's death row.
The transcripts of Williams 1981 trial paint a disturbing picture
of the former Crips gang leader, who was convicted of shooting four
people to death with a shotgun during two robberies, later boasting
about the gurgling sounds convenience store clerk Albert Owens made
as he died. During the trial, prosecutors say, Williams plotted to
kill a sheriff's deputy and an accomplice who was expected to
testify against him, then blow up a bus full of inmates with
dynamite to escape in the resulting chaos.
After the jury read their guilty verdict Williams, according to
transcripts, looked to jurors and mouthed: "I'm going to get each
and every one of you motherf------." Williams supporters, who
include film star Jamie Foxx and rapper Snoop Dogg, charge that
there was no evidence linking him to the crimes, suggesting he was
railroaded by a racist jury after three blacks were removed from the
DOES TOOKIE MATTER?
Years later, even the composition of the jury pool is still in
dispute. Williams supporters have said that it was all white, while
prosecutors say that there was at least one black and one Hispanic
on the panel.
Prosecutors say evidence showed Williams purchased the 12-gauge
shotgun used in the crimes and point to testimony by an accomplice
that Williams shot Owens. Two witnesses said he confessed to the
murders. Williams declined to testify in his defense, calling his
stepfather, girlfriend and two fellow inmates as witnesses.
Defenders say he found redemption in San Quentin, writing books
urging children to reject violence and renouncing his gang life. He
offered counseling by telephone to school kids. They say his stature
as a "founder" of the notorious Crips gives him a unique ability to
steer youth away from gangs and assert that he has saved 150,000
lives. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times
for his anti-gang work and four times for the literature prize by
backers who include university professors from the United States and
But gang experts dispute Williams' claims to have founded the
Crips and say he has little influence over teens. Los Angeles Police
Chief Bill Bratton has said that few gang members had likely heard
of Williams before press coverage of his execution.
Williams has said he now regrets his role in the Crips but has
refused to debrief authorities on the gang, saying that doing so
would brand him a "snitch." Others have said that Williams' books
are a crass publicity campaign and have sold only a few hundred
copies each. A spokesman for Williams' publisher, Power Kids Press,
refused to give out sales figures for the eight books but said three
were still in print. "Calif. executes former gang leader Tookie
Williams." (Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:38 AM ET)
SAN QUENTIN, California (Reuters) - Former Crips gang leader
Stanley Tookie Williams was executed by lethal injection early on
Tuesday at California's San Quentin State Prison as punishment for
murdering four people during 1979 robberies.
The execution in the high-profile case follows California Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's rejection of a clemency petition and the
denial of last-minute legal appeals by top courts.
The execution of Stanley Tookie Williams
Outside San Quentin
prison Monday night, under the floodlights, death penalty opponents
prayed, sang hymns and cursed the Terminator
By Adam Shemper and Jonathan Stein -
December 13, 2005
Stanley Tookie Williams was executed by lethal
injection at California's San Quentin prison early Tuesday morning.
He was 51 years old.
Williams walked into the execution chamber, a semioctagonal room
with a padded green gurney and flooded with pale white light. He lay
down. Guards strapped him in. A guard kept a hand on Williams'
shoulder. A nurse had difficulty finding a vein in his left arm. She
accidentally drew blood. It took 12 minutes to prepare the IVs.
Williams held his head up. He looked at the press -- 17 journalists
in all. He looked at his loved ones -- five of them present -- and
mouthed words that journalists couldn't hear or understand.
At 12:21 a.m., the first drug, five grams of sodium pentothal to
make Williams unconscious, was pumped into his arm. That was soon
followed by injections of 50 cc's of pancuronium bromide to stop his
breathing and 50 cc's of potassium chloride to stop his heart. After
a few minutes, Williams' stomach begin to spasm and contract. Soon
he was not moving. The roomful of witnesses sat in silence looking
at Williams' unmoving body. Three of his passionate supporters,
including Barbara Becnel, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, cried
out, "The state of California just killed an innocent man."
A circular flap in a heavy metal door near Williams' body was
opened by someone unseen. A piece of paper was slipped through and
was unrolled by a female guard who made the final announcement.
Stanley Tookie Williams was dead at 12:35 a.m.
Inside San Quentin's media center, journalists finally sprung
into action. Most had been here over four hours. The décor was like
that of an old library, with drab purple carpeting and bright
halogen lighting. A trophy case stood next to instructional videos
on what to do if taken hostage. A stage with a folding table and the
American flag was at the front of the room. "It looks like they do
plays here," one journalist had said earlier. "They could put on
As journalists waited, one guy sketched in a notebook. "Monday
Night Football" played on a small TV. Others flipped through the
press package prepared by the San Quentin Press. It opened with
three pages of pictures of a young Albert Owens, followed by
pictures of his dead body, lying in a pool of blood next to empty
Pepsi cans. On another page that addressed Williams' Nobel Prize
nomination, the booklet explained that over 140 nominations are
submitted each year and that former nominees have included Hitler,
Stalin and Mussolini.
But now journalists clutched their BlackBerrys, hoping to get the
first e-mail from their colleague who witnessed the execution. They
began tapping the heels of their polished shoes. A photographer took
a picture of their faces lit up by their hand-held devices' blue
glow. A TV cameraman walked up and started filming. When word broke
out of the official time of death, a journalist got on his cell, "Hey,
Joe, it's me. It's 12:35!" People ran to their camera stations.
People standing outside said prayers. They sang "We Shall
Overcome," although a girl sitting on top of a trailer said, "I
don't believe that. I'm not singin'." A Richmond, Calif., reverend
began shouting through a megaphone: "I'm tired of singin'! I'm tired
of talkin'! Do somethin'! Let's do somethin'!" He marched out to a
chorus of amens, hollering and people following him. It was as if
everyone decided to leave and follow the one person who was angry
and ready for action.
A Native American man on the other side of the street held a
large upside-down American flag with a white swastika painted in the
blue field of stars. He was shouting at the "white maggots" who had
defiled his land, who had oppressed and enslaved his people. He
yelled at the blond news anchors below him, "You're all immigrants.
This is my land you've been poisoning for the last 500 years." He
lighted the flag on fire as a black woman told him he shouldn't do
that, that he should have more pride in this nation. He responded
that it was time for a "true indigenous people's revolution." Then
the white picket fence he was holding onto broke and he fell down
the small embankment. Then the people he'd been arguing with lifted
him up and asked him if he was OK. "Yeah," he said. "I'm OK."
Williams' last chance had been clemency. But early in the
afternoon on Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had made his
decision. Williams had never apologized nor showed remorse for his
victims, the governor's statement said, so there could be no
Williams had been convicted of murdering four people. He was
found guilty of shooting Albert Owens during a 7-Eleven store
robbery on Feb. 27, 1979, and shooting Yen-I Yang and Tsai-Shai Yang
and their daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, 12 days later at a Los Angeles
motel the family owned. He was sentenced to death in 1981. He
maintained his innocence until the end.
Williams' last visitor on Monday was 67-year-old Richmond
resident Fred Davis Jackson, who had been coming to see him since
1997. Williams wore his regular blue prison uniform and was in good
spirits on Monday, according to Jackson. "This time I couldn't hug
him like I wanted to. He was handcuffed; and he's so big, it's hard
to get your arms around him." Williams had been on suicide watch, so
a guard sat in the room with him. He had refused an official last
meal. But there was turkey there, according to Jackson. "He didn't
eat any, though," he said. "And I didn't have an appetite neither."
The warden later reported that Williams only drank water and milk.
"We said goodbye, like we always do," Jackson said. That was at 6
p.m. It was dark out and getting colder. "I said, 'I'll see you
later.' We acted like nothing was going to happen. I gave him a
regular goodbye because his faith is so strong. And when I said that
I'd see him tomorrow, I was saying that he would be with me no
matter what." Soon after, Williams was moved and saw no more
Earlier Monday, Williams met with several friends and supporters,
including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Becnel. For 10 years, Becnel
had helped Williams broker gang truces and carry his message to
inner-city youth. She had helped him write a series of books for
kids and teenagers. The intent of the books was to inform readers of
the perils of gang life, which Williams, who co-founded the Crips
gang in Los Angeles, had experienced firsthand.
In the afternoon, outside the prison's main gate, Jackson was
harangued by conservative L.A. radio shock jocks John Ziegler and
John Kobylt, who were pushing microphones in his face and yelling: "Name
one of the victims! Name one." Jackson ignored them and tried to
walk away. He never answered the question. "You don't know. Answer
the question. You don't know, do you?" At one point, sheriff's
deputies stepped in and pushed the men in opposite directions.
Adjacent to the prison sits Point San Quentin Village, a town of 75
people living in quaint houses, condos and cottages nestled into the
hill flush against the prison fences.
As night approached, floodlights shone down on Main Street. It
looked like a movie set. Some residents had fled. The television and
radio trucks were backed into their driveways, lawns and gardens.
Reporters worked out of some of their houses, and NBC-TV broadcast
from a balcony. Locals charged upward of $2,500 for the space -- the
going rate for previous executions had been $1,000. News anchors and
reporters were lined up one after the other in their spotlights, and
were on every 30 minutes, as if they were doing a play by play.
Actor Mike Farrell -- well known for his role as B.J. Hunnicutt
on "M*A*S*H" and as an advocate against the death penalty -- stood
before a crowd of gathering protesters and a swarm of media and
spoke out against Gov. Schwarzenegger's decision. He said Williams'
lawyers met with the governor Dec. 8, then left and they didn't hear
from him for 97 hours. "He left Stanley Williams to twist in the
wind," Farrell said. "All of us are not only disappointed but are
A California Highway Patrol officer told us there were possibly
4,000 people gathered. (More likely the number was closer to 2,000.)
But the officer did not say that that number represented a diverse
group of African-Americans, Native Americans, whites, nuns,
ministers, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and members of the Nation of
The night wore on and six women -- who called themselves the "Threshold
Choir" -- stood in a circle holding burning candles. They sang hymns
and prayers. Their voices, almost whispers, were intermittently
drowned out by helicopters flying overhead. Below them, people
sitting on the beach looking out over the bay, which reflected the
dark magenta and violet city light. No one seemed to be talking, as
if they were lost in meditation and prayer. Joan Baez sang "Swing
Low, Sweet Chariot."
In the San Francisco Bay Area, people had been gathering for days
in support of Williams and in protest against the death penalty. On
Sunday, at an American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
ceremony in downtown San Francisco, 700 people showed up to honor
Sister Helen Prejean. She received the Chief Justice Earl Warren
Civil Liberties' Award. Past winners have included Rosa Parks,
Thurgood Marshall and Farrell, who was there moving through the
crowd. But it was clear that Williams was on everyone's mind.
Dorothy Ehrlich, executive director of the ACLU-NC, said, "No one
should be put to death without the world watching." Sean Penn
introduced Sister Helen. They knew each other from working on "Dead
Man Walking" together, the movie that starred Susan Sarandon and
Penn, and depicted Sister Helen's experience ministering to Patrick
Sonnier and watching him die in the electric chair in 1984 in the
state penitentiary in Angola, La. At the ceremony she posed a
question to the audience: "What if we put 1,000 condemned people in
a stadium and shot them?" And then answered it sharply, "The whole
world could see. We have killed 1,000 people and nobody saw."
Earlier that morning, members of the anti-capital-punishment
group Death Penalty Focus met in Sausalito, Calif., for a fundraiser
brunch. Executive director Lance Lindsey had helped organize it, and
organization president Mike Farrell talked informally about Williams
to a room of criminal attorneys, professors, business entrepreneurs,
a vineyard developer, a private investigator and a psychologist.
There were artists and writers. There were people with money. There
were liberals who had worked in politics, fundraising and
volunteering for various social causes and campaigns.
Farrell, who is tall and has watery blue eyes and white hair,
said he met Williams five or six years ago. "He's very impressive.
He's very calming, extraordinarily peaceful, given his circumstances,"
Farrell said. "The transformation -- from his perspective,
redemption -- is visible. He's quiet. He speaks like an educated man,
interestingly articulate. To use an odd word, he's sweet."
Farrell stood in front of a large fireplace. He had helped defend
condemned inmates for more than 25 years, starting just after 1976,
when the U.S. reinstated the death penalty. "We all have a finger in
it," Farrell said. "We all have a finger in the execution of Stanley
Williams." He wore a black coat and sweater, dark navy pants. "We
must uphold the American principle that we all have human value, and
I believe that issue starts with the death penalty." He articulated
the issues, talking of the great inequalities in the system, how
poor those on death row are, the discrimination, how most death
sentences are carried out in the former slave states.
"People like Stanley, people on death rows across this country, I
call them 'the invisible people,'" Farrell said, his hands speaking
also, as if he were conducting. "The thinking goes that people who
are invisible in our own lives can be dispensed with easily." He
said he knew the pain of those who had lost family members. "I lost
a loved one to murder, and I felt great pain, but it doesn't mean
I'm going to stoop to the lowest part of my self."
"I spoke with a woman who lost her loved one in the Oklahoma City
bombing," he continued. "She said she didn't want Timothy McVeigh to
be executed. She said, 'No, I want him to be skinned alive.' She
wanted him to be tortured every day for this rest of his life.
Though I understand the feeling, we cannot, as a society, condone
anyone acting on those feelings. Otherwise we might as well strap an
inmate to a chair, and give the grieving family an ax and have them
go out at them, and let there be blood on the walls." There was
silence in the room. A woman with her legs folded beneath her on the
couch looked as if she might cry.
After midnight on Monday, plenty of people were crying. Following
the execution, people trickled down the dark street, and Penn was
among them. We asked him how one could ultimately make an invisible
person visible. "I feel the answer to your question is right here,
among all these people, who came to say what's on their mind, what's
in their hearts," he said. And why was he there walking among them,
lost in the crowd in his black jacket and faded blue jeans, an unlit
cigarette in hand? "For the same reasons these people are here. I'm
here to abolish the death penalty."
Thousands Rally as Tookie Dies; The scene at San Quentin as
California executes its controversial inmate
By Karen Breslau - Newsweek
Dec. 13, 2005
It was fitting somehow that a death row inmate so
famous his life was made into a movie and whose appeal for mercy was
rejected by a movie star turned governor was, until his final
moments the center of a spectacle. Even as Stanley [Tookie] Williams
lay on the execution table in San Quentin just after midnight
Tuesday—with thousands rallying on his behalf outside the prison
gates—he continued to generate drama. As prison technicians fumbled
for 12 minutes trying to insert an intravenous line to introduce the
poison that would stop his heart, witnesses reported that a
frustrated Williams at one point raised his head and asked his
executioners if they needed help finding a vein.
Minutes later, Williams, 51, the co-founder of the Crips street
gang and convicted murderer of four, was dead, ending one of
California's most dramatic death-penalty battles in decades.
Williams's fate was sealed Monday afternoon at around 1 p.m. Pacific
time, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected Williams's petition
for clemency in unusually harsh language.
Schwarzenegger, who had
remained largely silent as an ever-growing parade of celebrities
called on him to commute Williams's death sentence in recognition of
his anti-gang activism while in prison, instead issued a scathing
rebuke of Williams's claim that his writings and Nobel peace prize
nominations were proof that he had redeemed himself during 24 years
on death row.
Schwarzenegger instead focused on Williams's refusal to express
remorse for the four 1979 shotgun murders that resulted in his death
penalty. "Is Williams's redemption complete and sincere, or is it
just a hollow promise?" Schwarzenegger said in a written statement.
"Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal
killings, there can be no redemption." Schwarzenegger even took a
swipe at Williams's anti-gang literature, noting that one of his
books was dedicated to George Jackson, an infamous prison activist
charged with murder and mayhem at San Quentin in the 1970s.
As the afternoon went on, Williams's lawyers filed increasingly
desperate appeals with the California Supreme Court, and on Monday
evening, with the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming the emergence of new
witnesses who could exonerate Williams in the shootings. Even as the
legal manueverings were ongoing, a crowd was gathering outside the
gates of San Quentin. As Williams met with his final visitors, read
his last stack of mail and was prepared by prison officials for
lethal injection, the crowd outside listened to anti-death penalty
messages from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, folk singer Joan Baez, actors
Mike Farrell and Sean Penn and scores of local leaders.
By Monday evening, the streets of Point San Quentin Village, a
small seaside hamlet of 50 houses on the road leading to the prison,
were packed with more than 2,000 people. The blazing white
floodlights of the prison lit up the whole scene like a movie set.
Some residents had rented their driveways to television satellite
trucks for spot prices that ranged from $1,000 to $3,000 for the
A portrait photographer, attended by a pair of assistants,
had set up a street side studio where he was shooting demonstrators
who posed in the lotus position against a white backdrop. "This is
beautiful, absolutely beautiful," he said. Next to him, a small
group of men were clustered around a banner that said "QUEERS
AGAINST EXECUTION." A man selling hot chocolate was being pursued by
a man with a "SAVE TOOKIE" sign, shouting "You fascist bastard."
The few anti-Tookie activists—a man carrying blow-ups of the
victims' autopsy photos, a guy in a sandwich board saying "BELIEVE
IN JESUS"—were quickly swarmed by the crowd, with chants of "Tookie
is innocent." In places, the air was rich with the telltale sweet
aroma of an illegal substance, suggesting the dozens of riot police
standing by could have plenty of work—if they wanted it. A man who
appeared to be high on something stumbled by with a sign reading: "My
85-year-old father lost his parents to Hitler and he calls the
governor Arnold Hitler." Another sign featured a photomontage of
Schwarzenegger's face superimposed by two huge crossed syringes and
the words "Stop me before I kill again." A speaker from the San
Francisco board of supervisors was on stage, calling Schwarzenegger
"a roboton of rightwing mediocrity."
There were also poignant sights: a woman standing alone under a
tree with a large photograph of a handsome young man. "My son was a
murder victim," read her sign. "He opposed the death penalty. So do
I." Small groups of demonstrators clutched candles and held each
other tight against the chill wind of the San Francisco Bay. The
huge prison complex where Williams was being readied for death
glowed under white floodlights. Helicopters swirled overhead.
On a small plywood stage erected in front of the post office (San
Quentin, California 94964) under a giant papier-mache figure of
Mahatma Gandhi, speakers took turns praising the work of Williams,
who authored several books while on death row warning young people
against the gang lifestyle. At 10:30 p.m., less than two hours
before the execution, a speaker announced that "Stan is in good
spirits." At 11:15 p.m, a former gang member named Diego Garcia
thanked Williams for saving him, by persuading him to turn his life
around. A woman who claimed to be a descendant of Geronimo offered a
chant in Cherokee. At 11:30, a small round of "All we are saying is
give Tookie a chance" to the melody by John Lennon broke out.
Two minutes later, a speaker announced that Schwarzenegger had
denied a second reprieve requested by Williams's lawyers. There is a
slight gasp and strains of "We Shall Overcome" waft over the crowd.
People started lighting candles. In an inexplicable moment of
tastelessness, a local radio personality took the stage to promote a
hip-hop CD for Williams. Young people reading passages from
Williams's anti-gang books shared the stage with various adult
speakers, one of whom compared Williams's struggle to that of civil
rights icon Rosa Parks. Another invoked John F. Kennedy. It was one
minute before midnight, just before the execution was to begin and
many in the crowd were weeping. While most of the speakers on stage
were young and African-American, the audience was predominately
white and older.
A friend of Williams took the stage to tell of his
final moments that afternoon with Tookie. "He said 'whatever happens,
I'm okay. My conscience is clear.'" A rabbi implored the crowd not
to leave at 12:01 when the execution was scheduled to begin. "It can
take 10 to 15 minutes until the execution is completed," he warned.
"We have to see this through."
At 12:35 a.m. Stanley Tookie Williams was pronounced dead.
Gang co-founder executed; Governor had rejected clemency for
By Gordon Smith - San Diego Union Tribune
December 13, 2005
SAN QUENTIN – Stanley "Tookie" Williams died by lethal injection
early this morning, after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday
denied a plea for clemency by the convicted murderer and co-founder
of the Crips street gang.
Williams, 51, whose case was raised to national prominence in
recent weeks by death-penalty foes, black leaders, celebrities and
others opposed to his execution, was rendered unconscious by sodium
pentothal just after midnight, then injected with pancuronium
bromide to stop his breathing and potassium chloride to stop his
He had been on death row since being convicted in 1981 of four
shotgun murders in the Los Angeles area. He was the 12th inmate put
to death in California since the state's death penalty was
reinstated in 1978. Williams steadfastly maintained he did not
commit the four murders for which he was convicted, and his
supporters – although often offering qualified opinions on his
innocence – insisted Williams had been "redeemed" through his
extensive anti-gang writings and other efforts during the past 13
In a decision released less than 12 hours before the execution,
Schwarzenegger said he was convinced that "cumulatively, the
evidence demonstrating Williams is guilty of these murders is strong
and compelling." "There is no need to rehash or second guess the
myriad findings of the courts over 24 years of litigation,"
Schwarzenegger wrote in declining to commute Williams' death
sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Schwarzenegger noted that considering the countless murders
committed by the Crips gang that Williams co-founded, "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."
In any case, "It is impossible to separate Williams' claim of
innocence (of the four murders) from his claim of redemption," the
governor wrote. "Without an apology and atonement for these
senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption." Jonathan
Harris, one of Williams' lead attorneys, said Schwarzenegger
apparently believed that "an innocent man had to confess in order to
get clemency. I could not disagree with that more."
The California Legislature is scheduled to consider a bill in
January that would create a moratorium on the state's death penalty
until an independent commission can study how it is applied, Harris
said. "It would be a sad, tragic and dishonorable day if Stanley
Williams (was) the last inmate executed before this moratorium went
into effect," he said. Officials with the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People, which has taken up Williams'
cause in recent weeks, called Schwarzenegger's decision political,
and said they were disappointed and saddened by it.
"He's a first-term governor, he wants a second term, and he's
going to make decisions that will appeal to the people who put him
in office to get back in office," said NAACP president Bruce Gordon.
Gordon said criminal justice in the United States is unequally
applied to minorities. "There are too many (condemned inmates), more
often black than white, who have been exonerated when all the
evidence is presented," he said.
Earlier yesterday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a
last-ditch motion by Williams' lawyers to reopen his case. The court
said the claims in the motion were made, and denied, previously, and
didn't offer "clear and convincing evidence of actual innocence."
Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the execution.
Williams, who was moved to the death watch cell adjacent to the
death chamber about 6 p.m. was described by prison officals as calm,
quiet, thoughtful and respectful of the prison staffers who
interacted with him. He did not request a spiritual adviser or last
meal. His only request after entering the cell was for a couple of
cartons of milk.
The last California governor to grant clemency to a condemned
inmate was Ronald Reagan, who commuted the sentence of brain-damaged
Calvin Thomas in 1967.
In Los Angeles, police said they didn't expect violence to break
out in response to Schwarzenegger's decision. Speaking shortly
before the governor's decision was released, Police Chief William
Bratton said that "Mr. Williams should not be the poster boy for
dealing with the death penalty in this country. . . . He's been
convicted of four murders, and God knows what else he's been
involved in in his life. He's shown no remorse for those murders,
and in recent times he's been discouraging working with the police
to deal with murders that continue."
Williams co-founded the Crips street gang in 1971, when he was
18. It since has become one of the nation's most notorious gangs.
In 1981, he was convicted of murdering four people during two
robberies: Albert Owens, a night clerk at a 7-Eleven convenience
store, and motel owners Yen-I Chang, 76, and Tsai-Shai Yang, 63, and
their daughter, Ye-Chen Lin, 43.
After 12 years on San Quentin's death row, Williams renounced his
violent past and began writing books, including a series aimed at
children warning of the dangers of gangs. Beginning in 2000, death-penalty
foes nominated him repeatedly for Nobel prizes for peace and
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said Nobel Peace Prize
nominations average more than 140 annually, and in the past have
included Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Criticizing Williams for
refusing to take responsibility for the deaths he caused, Lockyer
and other law-enforcement officials called the former gang leader an
unrepentant killer who tried to avoid execution any way he could.
Crips Gang Co-Founder Executed in California
Los Angeles Gang
Co-Founder Stanley Tookie Williams Executed After Appeals Fail
By Kim Curtis - ABC News
AP December 13, 2005
SAN QUENTIN, Calif. - Convicted killer Stanley Tookie Williams,
the Crips gang co-founder whose case stirred a national debate about
capital punishment versus the possibility of redemption, was
executed Tuesday morning.
Williams, 51, died at 12:35 a.m. after receiving a lethal
injection at San Quentin State Prison, officials said. Before the
execution, he was "complacent, quiet and thoughtful," Corrections
Department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.
The case became the state's highest-profile execution in decades.
Hollywood stars and capital punishment foes argued that Williams'
sentence should be commuted to life in prison because he had made
amends by writing children's books about the dangers of gangs and
In the days leading up to the execution, state and federal courts
refused to reopen his case. Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
denied Williams' request for clemency, suggesting that his supposed
change of heart was not genuine because he had not shown any real
remorse for the killings committed by the Crips. "Is Williams'
redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?"
Schwarzenegger wrote. "Without an apology and atonement for these
senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."
Williams was condemned in 1981 for gunning down convenience store
clerk Albert Owens, 26, at a 7-Eleven in Whittier and killing Yen-I
Yang, 76, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 63, and the couple's daughter Yu-Chin
Yang Lin, 43, at the Los Angeles motel they owned. Williams claimed
he was innocent. Witnesses at the trial said he boasted about the
killings, stating "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, according to the transcript that the governor
referenced in his denial of clemency.
Some execution witnesses said the nurse who delivered the
injection appeared to have trouble finding a vein in Williams'
muscular arm. At one point, he uttered something to the nurse and
offered to help, said Steve Ornoski, the prison warden. He offered
no other final words. "He did seem frustrated," Ornoski said.
After he was declared dead, his supporters shouted in unison:
"The state of California just killed an innocent man," as they
walked out of the chamber.
About 1,000 death penalty opponents and a few death penalty
supporters gathered outside the prison to await the execution.
Singer Joan Baez, M A S H actor Mike Farrell and the Rev. Jesse
Jackson were among the celebrities who protested the execution.
"Tonight is planned, efficient, calculated, antiseptic, cold-blooded
murder and I think everyone who is here is here to try to enlist the
morality and soul of this country," said Baez, who sang "Swing Low,
Sweet Chariot" on a small plywood stage set up just outside the
A contingent of 40 people who had walked the approximately 25
miles from San Francisco held signs calling for an end to "state-sponsored
murder." But others, including Debbie Lynch, 52, of Milpitas, said
they wanted to honor the victims. "If he admitted to it, the
governor might have had a reason to spare his life," Lynch said.
Former Crips member Donald Archie, 51, was among those attending
a candlelight vigil outside a federal building in Los Angeles. He
said he would work to spread Williams' anti-gang message. "The work
ain't going to stop," said Archie, who said he was known as
"Sweetback" as a young Crips member. "Tookie's body might lay down,
but his spirit ain't going nowhere. I want everyone to know that,
the spirit lives."
Among the celebrities who took up Williams' cause were Jamie Foxx,
who played the gang leader in a cable movie about Williams; rapper
Snoop Dogg, himself a former Crip; Sister Helen Prejean, the nun
depicted in "Dead Man Walking"; and Bianca Jagger. During Williams'
24 years on death row, a Swiss legislator, college professors and
others nominated him for the Nobel Prizes in peace and literature.
"There is no part of me that existed then that exists now,"
Williams said recently during an interview with The Associated Press.
"I haven't had a lot of joy in my life. But in here," he said,
pointing to his heart, "I'm happy. I am peaceful in here. I am
joyful in here."
Williams' statements did not sway some relatives of his victims,
including Lora Owens, Albert Owens' stepmother. In the days before
his death, she was among the outspoken advocates who argued the
execution should go forward.
"(Williams) chose to shoot Albert in the back twice. He didn't do
anything to deserve it. He begged for his life," she said during a
recent interview. "He shot him not once, but twice in the back. ...
I believe Williams needs to get the punishment he was given when he
was tried and sentenced."
Calif. killer turned anti-gang author executed
By Adam Tanner - Reuters News
Dec 13, 2005
SAN QUENTIN, Calif., Dec 13 (Reuters) - California prison
officials executed Stanley Tookie Williams, 51, the ex-leader of the
Crips gang who brutally killed four people in 1979, early on Tuesday
after top courts and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected final
appeals to spare his life. The time of death was 12:35 a.m. PST on
The execution by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison
north of San Francisco followed a frenzied but failed effort to
reopen the case by supporters of Williams, who repudiated gang life
during his 24 years on Death Row. The case has generated widespread
interest and fierce debate over the death penalty in the United
States because Williams has written a series of books warning young
people against gangs.
Witnesses said guards struggled for about 12 minutes to place the
needle in a vein in his left arm, frustrating Williams who
occasionally spoke with the guards preparing his death, asking at
one point: "Still can't find it?" After he was strapped down, he
raised his head often, especially to look at Barbara Becnel, the
editor of his books and foremost supporter who helped bring broad
publicity to his case. After his death, Becnel and two other
supporters broke the silence in the witness room, saying: "The state
of California just killed an innocent man."
A relative of one of the victims wept as the prisoner's
supporters made their defiant statement.
Becnel and other supporters said Williams' anti-gang work showed
the inmate had changed fundamentally in the half of his life he has
spent in prison. But Schwarzenegger and others said his continued
protestations of innocence negated any claim that he had redeemed
himself. "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," Schwarzenegger wrote on Monday in
denying clemency. "Without an apology and atonement for these
senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption." "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
CROWDS PROTEST AT PRISON
Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson said he broke the news on
Monday afternoon that Schwarzenegger had denied clemency as Williams
met several supporters in prison. "He said 'Don't cry, let's remain
strong,'" Jackson told Reuters. "He smiled, you know, with a certain
strength, a certain resolve." "I think he feels a comfort in his new
legacy as a social transformer," Jackson said.
"I am not the kind of person to sit around and worry about being
executed," Williams told Reuters last month. "I have faith and if it
doesn't go my way, it doesn't go my way."
Williams was convicted in 1981 of killing Albert Owens as he lay
face down on the floor of a 7-Eleven convenience store in a $120
robbery. Two weeks later, Williams shot dead an elderly Taiwanese
immigrant couple running a motel, as well as their visiting
daughter. "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," Schwarzenegger wrote.
Prison officials said Williams was composed and cooperative and
said he did not request a final meal after eating oatmeal and
drinking milk earlier in the day.
Some 2,000 opponents of the death penalty gathered outside the
gates of San Quentin, where Jesse Jackson addressed the crowd and
folk singer Joan Baez sang spirituals. Some brought small children
despite the late hour. "I wanted to show them we oppose the death
penalty even if you are a murderer," said Christina Williams, 23,
who held hands with her two young children and wore a "Save Tookie"
button on his jacket. "He changed his life and deserves a second
The nation's top courts disagreed. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme
Court as well as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected final
appeals to reconsider the case. Pondering their fifth habeas corpus
petition on the case over the past quarter century, the state
Supreme Court also rejected the petition on Sunday night. (Additional
reporting by Michael Kahn)
THE TOOKIE FILES
By Michelle Malkin -
November 26, 2005
Convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the co-founder of
the violent Crips gang who is on Death Row in California, is
Hollyweird's current cause celebre. He is scheduled to be executed
on Dec. 13 after 24 years of legal wrangling. The San Francisco
Chronicle reports today that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided
to hold a clemency hearing Dec. 8.
Among the Save Tookie brigades: Snoop Dogg, Bianca Jagger, Jesse
Jackson, Margaret Cho, Mike Farrell, Jason Alexander, Laurence
Fishburne, Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Robbins,
Susan Sarandon, and Noah Wyle.
I wrote about Williams' bleeding-heart worshipers back in 2000,
when he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize:
San Quentin prison officials report that juvenile delinquents
idolize Williams. His propaganda has been endorsed by the
Congressional Black Caucus. As part of an ongoing public relations
campaign to soften his image while he ties up the courts with
specious legal appeals, Williams has been profiled sympathetically
by People magazine, Time, the Los Angeles Times, and the ethnic
press. He even appeared on a TV special introduced by President
Clinton. Barbara Becnel, a crusading journalist who "edits" Williams'
writings, once gushed that if the death-row inmate had "been raised
in Brentwood instead of South Central, he'd be head of the state
Williams' groupies would have us believe that their Nobel Peace
Prize nominee is a helpless victim of his environment, addled by low
self-esteem, forced to turn to violence by racist oppressors, and
now apologetic "for the atrocities which I and others committed
against our race through gang violence." Spare us the sob story.
Here are the cold-blooded facts missing from Williams' Nobel Peace
Williams was convicted of murdering four innocent bystanders with
a sawed-off shotgun in 1979. There was nothing peaceful or
compassionate about the way [Albert Owens], Thsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I
Yang and Yee Chen Lin died. Owen[s] was a white teen-age clerk at a
7-11 convenience store, shot twice in the back of the head --
execution-style -- as he lay unarmed on the floor during a hold-up.
A witness testified that Williams mocked the gurgling sounds Owen[s]
made as he lay dying. "You should have heard the way he sounded when
I shot him," the witness quoted Williams.
The Yangs were Taiwanese immigrants who, along with their
daughter Yee Chen Lin, were gunned down during a motel robbery two
weeks after Owen[s] died. Half of the daughter's face was blown off
by the shotgun blasts, former L.A. County Deputy District Attorney
Robert Martin told me in an interview this week. Williams called
them "Buddhaheads," Martin recounted, and robbed them of petty cash.
Williams has yet to apologize to the victims' families. When the
trial ended, Martin told me, Williams muttered to the prosecution
team, "I'll get every one of you m-----f-----s." Spoken like a Nobel
Tookie Williams was sentenced to die for these brutal crimes in
1981. But at the end of this year, he will have celebrated 19 more
Thanksgivings, 19 more Christmases, and 19 more birthdays. That's
6,935 days more than [Albert Owens], Thsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang and
Yee Chen Lin were allowed to enjoy on this earth...
Lora Owens, Albert's stepmother, writes:
My name is Lora Owens. I am the stepmother of Albert Lewis Owens.
My husband, Albert's father, has died so I also speak for him since
we discussed this letter frequently over the years. I am writing you
concerning clemency for Stanley "Tookie" Williams who murdered
Albert in 1979 by shooting him twice in the back. Within seconds,
though Albert pleaded for his life, Williams chose to become the
judge, jury and executioner of Albert, then laughed as he lay dying.
In 1981, Williams was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for
the murders he committed in cold blood. Now the many, many years of
appeals have also been denied and the facts remain steadfast and the
verdict remains firm. Now that the appeals have been denied,
Williams has decided on a new tactic. A female friend has entered
his life who happens to be a journalist who wants to write
children's books against gangs. Since the defense of brain damage in
his appeals did not gain him anything, Williams decided to become an
articulate author denouncing gang activity. He doesn't assist the
authorities in stopping gang activity by "debriefing" however, but
concentrates on teaching primary school age children the "walk and
talk" of gang life. This he claims will deter them from joining a
The Nobel Peace Prize nominations, from the first to the last,
have been made by activists who see an opportunity to further their
personal cause.The first was quoted to have made the nomination to "raise
the awareness of the death penalty to a higher degree". Totally
nothing to do with Williams and whether he deserved the recognition
but for a political agenda.
This has been true of each nomination since. They have quoted
that it doesn't matter what he has done in the past but what he is
I contend that he is not doing anything now to warrant any type
of award and it definitely does matter what he has done in the past.
It would matter to anyone whose child is dying in a pool of blood
because Williams had the loaded gun and chose to shoot- not in self
defense-but shot innocent, unarmed victims simply bcause he could.
John and Ken of KFI-AM talk radio in Los Angeles are following
the latest twists and turns. Flap's Blog is keeping a Tookie Watch.
RedState on the impending death of Tookie Williams. Debra J.
Saunders, who has followed the case for years, debunks the Tookie
The whole "redemption" line is a joke. As Williams' former
prosecutor Robert Martin once told me, redemption requires an
admission of guilt, facing up to what you did and expressing remorse.
Williams has done none of the above, yet newspaper editorial pages (including
The Chronicle's) and various do-gooders (including some Ninth U.S.
Court of Appeals judges) have been pushing for the governor to grant
Tookie clemency. That would turn the whole concept of clemency on
Let me stipulate: While I support the death penalty, I can
respect those who oppose it. But I can't respect those who lionize
the most violent thugs as if they are prize sages. My advice to the
anti-execution crowd -- and I have no doubt it will be ignored -- is
to find some poor schlub who killed in a panic and doesn't belong on
death row, and seek clemency for that person. Don't put a cold-blooded
killer on a pedestal. Don't denounce a government killing as
barbaric while you laud a cold-blooded thug. And don't ask for
clemency for a killer who won't fess up to his crimes.
Williams' co-author, Barbara Becnel, told the Los Angeles Times,
"What Stan presents is hope that they, too, can change. He is worth
far more to society alive than dead." Wrong. He is worth more to
society dead. The message from the Tookie-philes is that you can
kill innocent people and be a star. An execution says you can kill
innocent people and pay the price.
Which message will Gov. Schwarzenegger send? Stay tuned.
Clear Channel Radio Launches 'Kill Tookie Hour' in LA
Coalition of Community Leaders and Activists Protest KFI 640 AM's
Continued Racism Towards Blacks With "Kill Tookie Hour"
Please join a coalition of community leaders and activists as we
protest Clear Channel station KFI 640 AM for its continued blatant
racism and bigotry and announce a formal complaint filed with the
Federal Communications Commission.
KFI 640 AM hosts John and Ken of the John and Ken Show have
designated the hour of 5 p.m. as the “Tookie Must Die/Kill Tookie”
hour on KFI 640 AM everday Monday through Friday until and if
Williams is executed by the State of California on December 13,
"The core and the manner of the on-air remarks, which were
extremely distasteful towards Williams and his plight, were
extraordinarily disturbing and offensive," commented Jasmyne Cannick
of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. "I urge the Federal
Communications Commission to examine this incident - particularly in
light of other recent, similarly offensive attempts at "entertainment"
by KFI 640 AM host John Zeigler, who tried to find humor in the
death of attorney Johnny Cochran claiming he was going “straight to
hell” for defending a killer (O.J. Simpson). - and to take any and
all actions consistent with applicable FCC rules and regulations."
"If any other radio station set aside an hour as “President Bush
Must Die” and set forth in that hour to incite a riot among people
and to call for the death of the President, that station would be in
a lot of trouble. There is no difference with the “Tookie Must Die/Kill
Tookie” hour on KFI 640 AM. We must draw that line at some point."
Los Angeles is a sensitive city. Race relations continue to be a
major issue in our city. It does the City of Los Angeles a
disservice to have white on-air personalities like John and Ken
ridicule an obviously sensitive situation for many Blacks that feel
that Williams was the victim of a racist jury composed mainly of
whites. I do not need to remind you of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots
that were the result of four Los Angeles police officers being
acquitted in the beating of Rodney King.
It is clear that John and Ken are trying to play on the emotions
of Blacks in Los Angeles as it relates to the Williams execution and
pit whites, who are perceived as being against clemency for Williams,
against Blacks who are perceived as supporting clemency for Williams.
Radio in the past has proven to be a successful weapon to promote
bigotry, hatred and violence. We urge the Federal Communications
Commission to take the steps necessary to prevent this from
Please forward this announcement to your contacts and join us:
WHEN: Wednesday, November 23 at 11 A.M. WHERE: Lucy Florence Coffee
House 3351 West 43rd Street, Leimert Park, Los Angeles, CA 90008
By Joseph Farah - World Net Daily
November 28, 2005
It almost defies words.
What is it that drives celebrities to the brink of hysteria over
the execution death of a quadruple murderer and the founder of a
mass-murdering street gang? What can you say about people hell-bent
on sparing the life of a man convicted of the 1979 murders of a
convenience-store clerk and two motel owners and their daughter
during separate robberies – and then bragging about the killings?
Why does one even need to point out the hypocrisy and immorality
of holding up this kind of human scum as a role model and hero,
while not lifting a finger to memorialize, let alone bring
restitution, to the victims of those crimes?
These are some of the questions racing through my mind as I
observe a movement to save the life of Stanley "Tookie" Williams
approaching critical full-tilt boogie in the late, great state of
Here's all you really need to know about "Tookie" Williams: In
1971, he founded the notorious Crips street gang, responsible
directly for the deaths of hundreds worldwide, indirectly thousands.
Today, there are tens of thousands of members of this organized
criminal enterprise known for dealing deadly drugs to children and
Ten years later, he was convicted by a Los Angeles, Calif., jury
of the 1979 murders of Yen-I Yang, a 65-year-old motel owner, his
wife, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 62, and their daughter, Yu-Chin Yang Lin,
42. They were Taiwanese who owned the Brookhaven Motel on Vermont
A sheriff's homicide investigator remembered noting how two of
the three victims were elderly and could have posed no threat and
that all three were tiny in stature. "I couldn't understand it,"
said Sgt. David Longshore.
He was also convicted of a murder that took place 11 days
earlier, when he walked into a 7-Eleven store in Pico Rivera at 4
a.m., forced Albert Lewis Owens to kneel in a storeroom and fired a
12-gauge shotgun at close range into his back. Afterward, an
accomplice turned informer said Williams boasted that he "blew some
white guy away, shot him in the back, for $63." Owens was 26.
When you read the stories about celebrities such as Bianca Jagger,
Jesse Jackson, Mike Farrell, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Jamie Foxx
decrying the injustice of Williams scheduled execution by lethal
injection Dec. 13, note that you not will see any mention of the
victims of his crimes.
What you will hear about, however, is the fact that Williams has
supposedly rehabilitated himself in prison by becoming a Muslim,
being embraced by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, writing
children's books and being nominated for a Nobel Peace prize. By the
way, his "rehabilitation" includes an absolute refusal to accept any
guilt for his crimes – no remorse, no confession, no penitence, no
The testimonials have been touching, indeed. Snoop Doggy Dogg
managed, remarkably, to utter 13 words in his defense without using
a profanity, vulgarity or obscenity: "He is an inspirator. He is
inspiring to me. And I inspire millions."
The multimillionaire rapper is himself a former member of the
Crips and glorifies killing cops, abusing women and the street gang
life in his filthy, virtually unintelligible "lyrics" – in between
Chrysler commercials with Lee Iacocca.
The rhetoric in support of Tookie Williams is getting more
animated daily. Some say he's innocent. Some say he was tried not
for the murders, but for his gang activities. Some say he couldn't
afford good lawyers. Others say the death penalty is just wrong in
all cases. I fear all of this hyperventilating is leading to an all-too-familiar
denouement. Riots in Los Angeles have been touched off for less than
the execution of this kind of monster. Is that the real goal of
these celebrities? Or do they really believe the fairytale they have
concocted about Tookie Williams?
Either way, a larger question looms: How is it that we have come
to live in a world where right is wrong, up is down, black is white
and north is south?
It's time for these celebrities to shut up. And it's time for
justice to be served – at long last – for Tookie Williams.
The Supreme Court refused to take the case of California death
row inmate Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a founder of the Crips street
gang. The 51-year-old former gang member who claims he is innocent
was condemned for killing four people in 1981 and says jailhouse
informants fabricated testimony that he confessed to the murders.
While in prison, Williams has been nominated several times for
the Nobel Prize for literature for his work on a series of
children's books and efforts intended to curtail youth gang violence.
Last year, the cable channel FX aired a movie that depicted the
killer and former gangbanger as an advocate for street peace. The
film was called "Redemption." The families of his four victims and
the prosecutor who put him on death row were appalled by the film.
To them, the movie glorified Williams while ignoring the violent
shotgun deaths during two separate 1979 robberies. Outraged and
indignant would be just a beginning of how I feel,'' said Lora Owens,
the stepmother who raised Albert Owens, a 23-year-old store clerk
slain more than two decades ago. "I'm outraged they'd even call it
`Redemption.' '' Robert Martin, the now-retired prosecutor who tried
Williams, has no use for the movie. "The person who lives gets all
the attention," Martin said. "The people who die get very little
attention. They are in their graves."
In the first murder, a jury convicted Williams of shooting to
death a 7-Eleven clerk for $120. An accomplice testified that
Williams gunned down Albert Lewis Owens, a father of two daughters,
to eliminate any witnesses. Williams, according to his cohorts,
later mimicked the sounds Owens made as he lay dying. Two weeks
later, the same jury found, he killed again at a downtown Los
Angeles motel, shooting motel owners Thsai-Shai and Yen-I-Yang, and
their daughter, Yee Chen Lin. There were no eyewitnesses, but a
number of people testified that Williams told them he killed the
three with a shotgun to keep them from identifying him as he robbed
them of $600.
Williams did not testify at his 1981 trial, but his defense
argued that he had alibis for both holdups. The jury, which was not
told Williams was a gang leader, didn't buy his defense. That same
jury then decided on death for Williams after a penalty phase in
which no evidence was presented to spare his life. "I don't think
his guilt is an issue anybody has taken seriously,'' says former
prosecutor Martin. "I think Williams has had no concern for anybody
else's life except his own. When people go to San Quentin, they get
San Quentinitis. I don't find it unusual he might have regrets now
about being the co-founder of one of the worst gangs in America.''
Williams' supporters say he was railroaded. But every court that
has reviewed Williams' case has rejected his claims of innocence.
Even his trial lawyer, Joe Ingber, acknowledges that the prosecution
``had a lot on the table'' in terms of evidence. Wes McBride,
president of the California Gang Investigators Association and a
veteran of Los Angeles gang wars, is skeptical of Williams'
rehabilitation and his death row work. "It doesn't balance against
four lives," McBride says. Nobody is more offended by Williams'
recognition than members of the victims' families, furious at the
attention Williams has received. "We are the ones that have been
waiting 24 years for justice to be served," says Rebecca Owens Vaul,
Albert Owens' daughter. "I find it beyond bad taste that the man
that killed my father has been nominated for not one, but two Nobel
Peace Prizes. I would like to be able to see my father's grave and
tell him that the man that took him away from us has finally been
brought to justice."
The Williams case reached the Supreme Court following a February
decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals. That court, as did the Supreme Court, refused to grant
Williams another hearing based on his argument that prosecutors
violated his rights when they dismissed all potential black jurors
from hearing the case. The California Criminal Justice Legal
Foundation is urging against clemency, and no California governor
has granted clemency to a condemned murderer since Ronald Reagan
spared the life of a severely brain-damaged killer in 1967. "Perhaps
now he will finally get the punishment that a jury unanimously
agreed he deserved," said the group's president, Michael Rushford.
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Do Not Execute Stanley Williams!
CALIFORNIA - Stanley Williams - December 13, 2005
Stanley Williams, a black man, is scheduled to be executed on Dec.
13, 2005 for two robberies resulting in the murders of Alvin Owens,
Thsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang, and Yee Chen on Feb. 27, 1979 in Los
Williams maintains his innocence for these two crimes. However he
admits to a life of gang violence and to co-founding the Crips youth
gang. During his 26 total years in prison, 24 of which have been
spent on death row, Williams has completely reformed. Williams’ case
presents a strong argument for clemency.
During his time on death
row, he has written an award-winning series of children's books that
warn about the perils of the gang lifestyle; written another book
for older children that demythologizes the prison experience (undercutting
a myth that prison is some kind of rite of passage for young African-American
males); written his own autobiography which renounces gang violence;
produced a peace protocol to help street gangs turn to peaceful
behaviour; and founded an Internet-based peer mentoring and anti-gang
program involving children in the United States, Switzerland, and
South Africa. His work played a prominent role in gang truces in Los
Angeles and Newark, New Jersey.
In 2004, after watching a film that
depicts Williams' life (Redemption, in which the actor Jamie Foxx
plays Stanley Williams), more than 300 members of the Crips and
Bloods gangs in Newark, New Jersey, signed a peace treaty, agreeing
to end gang violence.
Inspired by Williams' work against violence, a member of the
Swiss Parliament has nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Furthermore, President George W. Bush's Council on Service and Civic
Participation bestowed upon Stanley Williams the “Presidential Call
to Service Award.” The letter congratulating Williams for the award
praised him for having contributed to the “build[ing of] a culture
of citizenship, service, and responsibility in America.” This
special award "honors those who have provided more than 4,000 hours
of service over the course of their lifetime.”
In addition to the obvious problems with executing someone who
has so clearly reformed and who may serve a meaningful purpose to
society if allowed to live, there are also problems with Williams’
trial. At Williams’ request, no mitigating evidence was presented at
trial, although such evidence was available. According to the
Supreme Court of California in the People v. Deere, such a lack of
any mitigating evidence, even in accord with the defendant’s wish,
renders the penalty determination constitutionally unreliable. Oddly,
the very same court ruled against Williams when the same
Moreover, Williams’ trial counsel allowed the prosecutor to
unconstitutionally strike three black potential jurors. Two had been
drawn, passed for cause, and had been placed in the jury box. One
had been drawn as an alternate juror. The striking to potential
jurors for no reason other than their race is a violation of the
Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
It is also important to note that Williams’ defense counsel
neglected to object to the prosecutor’s unconstitutional juror
strikes. This failure of defense counsel is a clear violation of the
defendant’s right to effective assistance of counsel. As stated by
the dissenting opinion in Williams’ U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals’ rejection of his motion for re-hearing “[a]ny reasonable
attorney under the circumstances of this case would have objected to
the prosecutor’s use of peremptory challenges to rid the jury of
The same dissent also points out that “[t]here is a reasonable
probability that Williams would have succeeded in proving that the
prosecutor was engaging in impermissible racial discrimination.” Had
trial counsel objected this probability may have been realized. The
same dissent continues by stating that such an error is “sufficient
to undermine confidence in the outcome of the trial.”
Clearly Stanley Williams is not an appropriate candidate for the
death penalty. His trial was riddled with extraordinary
constitutional violations. Additionally Williams has reformed in
prison and can serve as an asset to society while serving a term of
life in prison without possibility of parole.
Please write to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to commute Stanley
Williams's sentence to life imprisonment.
WHO IS STAN TOOKIE WILLIAMS? Stan is a peacemaker on death row.
He has been nominated 5 times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work
in helping to prevent gang violence. He has been nominated four
times for the Nobel Literature Prize for his children's books that
warn young people about the pitfalls of joining a gang and exposes
them to alternatives.
He maintains innocence of the crimes he was
accused of, and faced racist discrimination throughout his trial.
One issue highlighted the fact that the prosecutor in Tookie's
original case removed three African-American jurors from the jury.
During Stan's trial, this prosecutor made racially-coded remarks
during his closing argument, comparing Stan during the trial to a
Bengal tiger in the zoo and stating that a black community - South
Central Los Angeles - was equivalent to the natural "habitat" of a
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Tookie on his
final appeal and set his execution date for December 13. Thus they
disregarded 9 of the 24 Ninth Circuit Court judges' assertion that
the District Attorney at Tookie's trial employed "reprehensible and
unconstitutional" racist tactics, using animal-in-a-jungle metaphors
to refer to Tookie and to the South Central environment in which he
lived. This landmark ruling means that minorities can now legally be
rejected from juries based on race. This is now the law of the land.
Who is Stan Tookie Williams?
Stan was the co-founder in 1971 of the Los Angeles Crips gang. In
1981 he was convicted of murdering four people during two robberies
and sentenced to death row at San Quentin State Prison. Stan deeply
regrets his gang involvement but has always maintained his innocence
of these crimes. His trial was based on circumstantial evidence and
the testimony of several witnesses, all of whom were facing a range
of felony charges, including fraud, rape, murder and mutilation.
Even the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stated in a September 10,
2002, ruling that the witnesses in Stan’s case had “less-than-clean
backgrounds and incentives to lie in order to obtain leniency from
the state in either charging or sentencing.”
There was physical evidence, but none of it pointed to Stan.
• Fingerprints were found at both crime scenes, but they were not
Stan’s. These fingerprints have never been identified.
• A bloody boot print left near the victim at one of the crime
scenes was not Stan’s. This boot print has never been identified.
• A shotgun shell found at that crime scene was said to be from a
gun purchased by Stan five years earlier. But the gun was, in fact,
found under the bed of two people – a husband and wife facing felony
insurance fraud charges and who were also under investigation for
murdering their own crime partner. This husband-and-wife crime team
did not serve any prison time and their murder investigation was
dropped after they testified that Stan “volunteered” a confession to
• The “star” witness at Stan’s trial – a white man and longtime
felon who was placed in a nearby cell while Stan awaited trial and
was years later discovered to have been a paid police informant –
also testified that Stan “volunteered” a confession to him. But
nearly 20 years after Stan’s trial it was discovered that a Los
Angeles police officer had left a copy of the police murder file
involving Stan’s case in this informant’s cell for overnight study.
The next day the murder file was picked up by that same officer, and
the informant informed the police that Stan had volunteered a
confession to him. In return for this testimony, the informant – who
himself was facing the death penalty for rape, murder and mutilation
– was given a lesser sentence that allowed him the possibility of
parole and freedom.
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
While on death row, Stan has written 9 highly-acclaimed children’s
books that educate young people to avoid gangs, crime and
incarceration. He has also worked to end gang violence through his
peace protocol and Internet Project for Street Peace, an
international peer mentoring program. Stan has saved the lives of
over 150,000 youth, as reported by them, their parents, teachers and
law enforcement officials in their emails to Stan
(email@example.com). He has recently published his memoir, Blue
Rage, Black Redemption, which has been nominated for a James Madison
Book Award. His work has resulted in multiple nominations for the
Nobel Peace and Literature prizes. This summer Stan’s work was even
recognized by the President of the United States when he received a
presidential award for his volunteer work to help youth. Stan’s
story was also recently made into a television movie, “Redemption:
The Stan Tookie Williams Story,” starring Academy Award winner Jamie
Foxx. The movie was honored by the Sundance and Cannes Film
Festivals, and was nominated for a Golden Globe and other
Saving Stan, Saving Our Civil Rights
Stan, like many prisoners, experienced racism in the criminal
justice system. His prosecutor kicked off three African-Americans
from serving as jurors in Stan’s trial, resulting in Stan being
convicted by a virtually all-white jury (no African-Americans; one
Latino; one Filipino; ten Caucasians). This prosecutor made numerous
racist remarks during the trial, comparing Stan to a “Bengal Tiger”
in the San Diego Zoo whose natural jungle “habitat” was the
equivalent of South Central Los Angeles.
The California State Supreme Court had twice censured this same
prosecutor for equally discriminatory behavior. Indeed, a member of
the California Supreme Court at that time made the following
statement about that prosecutor: ...I believe that we must place the
ultimate blame on its real source – the prosecutor. It was he who
unconstitutionally struck Black prospective jurors. The record
compels this conclusion and permits none other… This prosecutor knew
that such conduct was altogether improper. The trial court told him
as much. And so did we… This court attempted to teach this same
prosecutor that invidious discrimination was unacceptable when we
reversed a judgment of death because of similar improper conduct on
his part. He failed - or refused - to learn his lesson. The result
is another reversal - and another costly burden on the
administration of justice.
On October 11, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Stan’s
appeal to investigate the racism and discrimination at the heart of
his case, as well as Stan’s innocence issues. This denial
established as “case law” for the entire nation the right of
prosecutors to exclude jurors on the basis of race and to denigrate
minority defendants in front of white juries. The ruling is a
frontal attack on the civil rights of all Americans.
Will the State Execute a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee?
An execution date has been set for Stan Tookie Williams: December
13, 2005. In November 2005 his attorneys plan to file another
Federal Habeas Petition that presents new evidence of innocence. At
the same time a clemency team of lawyers (composed of lawyers from
two prestigious international law firms: New York City’s Curtis,
Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, founded in 1830, and the 500-attorney
firm of Howrey Simon Arnold & White LLP headquartered in Los Angeles),
has been formed to prepare a clemency petition for California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s consideration. That clemency
petition will be submitted to the Governor of California by the
beginning of December 2005.
Why Stanley Tookie Williams Should Receive Clemency
Clemency is a request for mercy. In the United States it is a
request for a Governor (only a Governor can grant clemency) to not
impose the death penalty, but instead to impose an alternative
sentence: Life without the possibility of parole. So clemency does
not mean freedom for the prisoner. It means that the person will
spend the rest of his life in prison unless he can later prove
innocence through further appeals.
Stanley Tookie Williams deserves clemency. From a 9-by-4 foot
cell he has undertaken extraordinary work to serve humanity in his
effort to reverse the destructive legacy of the Crips youth gang. If
Governor Schwarzenegger grants clemency to Stanley Tookie Williams
he will have made an historic move to diminish youth violence in
this country and abroad because of the powerful work that Stan would
be able to continue to do, using his credible voice to reduce the
presence of street gangs throughout this nation and around the
world. Even the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote an unprecedented
conclusion to its September 10, 2002, ruling about Stan. The Court
concluded that Stan was doing “laudable” work that made him “worthy”
of consideration for clemency. To that end, Stan has:
• Saved the lives of over 150,000 youth who were either preparing
to join a gang or got out of a gang, based on the testimonies of
tens of thousands of emails received by Stan at firstname.lastname@example.org
from kids, parents, teachers, librarians and even law enforcement
officials who say Stan’s
• Written nine highly acclaimed anti-violence, anti-gang and anti-drug
books for elementary school students (Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang
Violence, a series of eight books) and middle school children (Life
in Prison, a book that deromanticizes incarceration) that are in
schools, libraries and juvenile correctional facilities throughout
the nation and around the world. Life in Prison was honored by the
American Library Association.
• Written his autobiography, Blue Rage, Black Redemption, for
high school students and imprisoned adults to inspire them and to
demonstrate to them how they can rehabilitate themselves no matter
the difficulty surrounding their life circumstance. Blue Rage, Black
Redemption was recently nominated by Frederick Douglass IV for a
James Madison Book Award.
• Written the “Tookie Protocol for Peace: A Local Street Peace
Initiative,” which provides step-by-step instructions for how a
community can create peace – block by block, neighborhood by
neighborhood, city by city. Nearly 200 Crips and Bloods in Newark,
New Jersey, for example, signed a truce document based on Stan’s
peace protocol one month after downloading that sample peace treaty
from his website (www.tookie.com). Until then, those Crips and
Bloods had been responsible for 32 gang-related deaths during the
first four months of 2004. By May 2004, after signing the truce
document, the murder rate in Newark, New Jersey, dropped
significantly. The Deputy Mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka, credits
Stan’s work as playing a significant role in the lessening of
violence in his city. Reformed gang members in other states, such as
Indiana, have also reported their successful use of Stan’s peace
protocol to secure treaties that stopped gang violence in their
• Written letters to incarcerated youth that have been used as
counseling and learning tools by juvenile correctional officers. The
letters are available for free on his website
• Provided live mentoring via telephone to the principals of the
23 most at-risk elementary schools in the Chicago Public Schools
during an in-service training session about Stan’s work. The session
was so successful that the Chicago Public Schools decided to create
a curriculum around Stan’s Blue Rage, Black Redemption book and his
other work. That curriculum was launched in September 2005 within
those 23 schools. It is proving to be so successful with students
that there is a waiting list to become a participant.
• Provided live mentoring to at-risk youth via the telephone by
calling schools, a Bay Area juvenile correctional facility and
community-based after-school programs serving troubled youth
• Provided live mentoring to very high-risk youth who visit him
at San Quentin State Prison
• Recorded anti-gang Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that
have been played on radio stations throughout the United States and
Canada. A British station is preparing to air his PSAs
• Assisted in the creation of an award-winning movie made about
his life, “Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story,” starring
Jamie Foxx. The movie is being sold in DVD format globally – in, for
example, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Iraq to U.S. soldiers
fighting there. The movie of Stan’s life is proving to be so
inspirational that it, too, is saving lives. (See emails at
• Been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize – once by a
member of the Swiss Parliament and four times by a growing list of
eminent professors from the United States and Europe. He has also
been nominated four times for the Nobel Prize for Literature by
William Keach, Professor of English Literature from Brown University.
People v. Williams,
44 Cal.3d 1127, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635 (Cal. 1988) (Direct Appeal)
Defendant was convicted of robbery, murder and
use of firearm during commission of each crime, by jury, which
imposed the death penalty before the Superior Court, Los Angeles
County, Edward Hinz, Jr., J., and defendant received automatic
appeal under death penalty law. The Supreme Court, Lucas, C.J., held
that: (1) admission of testimony by inmate informant did not violate
Sixth Amendment; (2) admission of inmate informant's testimony did
not violate Fifth Amendment; (3) trial counsel was not ineffective;
(4) defendant was not entitled to jury instruction on diminished
capacity; (5) evidence concerning defendant's plans to escape before
trial was admissible; (6) attempted escape flight instruction was
warranted; (7) due process did not require trial court to give sua
sponte cautionary jury instruction for informant's testimony; (8)
jury need not find that defendant intended to kill under special
circumstances; (9) defendant should only have been charged with and
found guilty of one special circumstance of multiple murder; (10)
foreman's testimony following verdict demonstrated that jury did not
consider extraneous evidence during sentencing defendant; (11)
defendant was not entitled to postconviction voir dire of penalty
jury; (12) jury did not misunderstand its duties to weigh evidence
or to set appropriate penalty; (13) defense counsel was not
ineffective for failing to enter mitigating evidence on plaintiff's
behalf; (14) evidence concerning mode of death penalty was not
admissible; (15) death penalty law did not violate Eighth Amendment;
and (16) defendant's sentence was not disproportionate to his
culpability. Affirmed. Mosk, J., concurred in part and dissented in
part with opinion in which Broussard, J., joined.
LUCAS, Chief Justice.
Defendant was convicted of the murders of Alvin Owens, Thsai-Shai
Yang, Yen-I Yang, and Yee Chen Lin, with special circumstances as to
each count of felony murder (robbery) and multiple murder. The jury
also convicted him of robbing each of these victims, and found he
personally used a firearm during the commission of each crime. It
then returned a verdict of death. This appeal under the 1978 death
penalty law is automatic. A petition for a writ of habeas corpus was
filed in conjunction with the appeal, and we issued an order to show
cause thereon and appointed a referee. For purposes of consideration
and disposition, we have consolidated the two matters herein. After
careful review of defendant's arguments, we affirm the judgment, and
deny the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE
A. The "7-Eleven" Murder
Alvin Owens was an employee at a 7-Eleven store in Whittier. Alfred
Coward, known as "Blackie," testified as an immunized witness and
gave the following account of Owens' death:
Approximately 10:30 p.m. on February 27, 1979,
defendant came to Coward's house. The two went to the home of James
Garrett (where defendant was staying) and defendant went inside,
returning with a sawed-off shotgun. He was accompanied by a man
named Darryl, who was wearing a brown corduroy jacket. The three men
made several stops, including one to obtain "Sherms" (cigarettes
containing phencyclidene (PCP)). They all shared a Sherm cigarette,
and then picked up Tony Simms, who was dressed in a green jogging
suit and a cap. Defendant shared a second Sherm with Coward and
Simms, and asked Simms if he knew where he could "make money" in
Taking two cars, the foursome made two
unsuccessful restaurant and liquor store robbery attempts, [FN1] and
eventually went to a 7-Eleven store where Owens, the victim, was
sweeping the parking lot. Simms and Darryl went into the store
followed by Owens, defendant and Coward. Coward testified he saw no
one with a weapon except defendant, who approached Owens and told
him to keep walking. Owens walked toward the back rooms of the store
with defendant and Coward following him. Defendant told Owens to lie
down and Owens complied. Coward heard a gun being loaded, heard a
shot and glass breaking, [FN2] followed by two more shots. The group
then returned to Simms' house where the money was divided. [FN3]
Simms asked why defendant had shot Owens and defendant explained he
did not want to leave any witnesses. He also said the shotgun shells
could not be traced and that he had retrieved a few of them.
FN1. Witnesses testified that around 4 a.m. on
February 28, they saw four Blacks in a station wagon drive to a
liquor store near the 7-Eleven. Two of the men got out and went into
the store. One was wearing a green jogging suit and a beanie, the
other wore a brown coat. FN2. A television monitor in the store had
been shot out. FN3. The owner of the 7-Eleven store testified $120
was missing from the cash register.
Coward saw defendant later that morning at the
home of defendant's brother. He stated defendant told his brother,
"You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him."
Defendant then made a growling noise and laughed hysterically for a
number of minutes.
B. The Brookhaven Motel Murders
Robert Yang and his family owned and lived in the Brookhaven Motel
on South Vermont Street in Los Angeles. About 5 a.m. on March 11,
1979, he heard a woman's screams and three or four shots. A few
minutes later he left his bedroom and saw that the door separating
the motel office from the living quarters was open. It appeared the
door had been forced open from the outside. He discovered his father,
mother and sister had all been fatally wounded by shotgun fire. The
cash drawer was open and empty.
The police found two shotgun shell casings at the
scene. A firearms expert testified that one of the shells could have
been fired only from a weapon identified as having been purchased by
defendant in 1974. Three witnesses provided testimony regarding
defendant's involvement in the Brookhaven incident.
Samuel Coleman, testifying as an immunized witness, said that on March 10 he and
defendant went to the Showcase Bar where he remained until it closed
around 6 a.m. He last remembered seeing defendant about 2:30 a.m.,
but the next day defendant told him that he had robbed and killed
some people on Vermont Street. Defendant said he got approximately
$50 and was going to use it to buy PCP.
James Garrett testified that defendant kept some
of his possessions at the Garrett house and stayed there
approximately five days a week. Early on the morning of March 13,
1979, defendant told Garrett and his wife that he had heard that
some Chinese people had been killed on Vermont Street. He said he
did not know how the killings had occurred but thought the killers
were professionals because no shells or witnesses had been left.
He went on to say that he heard the killings had occurred at 5 o'clock
in the morning, that two men had knocked down the door, and that the
men had taken $600. Later, defendant again spoke about how the
people were killed. "[A]fter the big guy knocked the door down, he
went in the motel, and there was a guy laying on the couch, and he
blew him away."
Defendant said the man on the couch and a woman at
the cash register were shot twice, and another woman was also shot.
Garrett testified defendant told him he was the "big guy." Garrett
testified that he had the following conversation with defendant: "Well,
we was riding, and we happened to be going down Western. He [defendant]
asked me did I know about this certain motel called the Mustang
Hotel. I said no. It was like that. He said, 'Well, Cus, I'm
thinking about taking that off.' I said, 'How you going to take that
off, Cus, because too many people off in there?' He says, 'No
problem.' He said, 'I'll blow them away like I blew them away in the
Defendant also told Garrett about the Owens murder. He
said he had "blown away" a White man in a store; the man was on his
hands and knees and he shot him in the head with a shotgun. He also
told Garrett he was thinking about killing "Blackie" Coward because
he was a "punk."
Esther Garrett testified to essentially the same
matters as her husband James. In addition to the admissions
testified to by Mr. Garrett, Esther Garrett said defendant told them
the killers were using the money to buy "juice" (PCP) and that the
killers had picked up the bullets so there would be no evidence for
the police. After her husband left, defendant told Mrs. Garrett he
had committed the murder with his brother-in-law.
George Oglesby, also known as "Gunner," provided
additional testimony. Oglesby was an inmate who was housed in the
same cell block as defendant, a few cells away. [FN5] Oglesby
testified that in late April defendant asked him about the chances
of escaping from Atascadero or Patton, where he believed he might be
sent. He later asked Oglesby if he wished to be included in an
escape plan and Oglesby indicated he did. Defendant outlined a plan
complete with drawings that involved escaping while being
transferred from jail to court.
According to the plan, as summarized
by Oglesby, two people from "the outside" would disarm the officer
driving the bus. Defendant also planned to kill a person on the bus
who was to testify against him, as well as the two officers who
would accompany the bus. Defendant later modified the plan to
include blowing up the bus in order to prevent the authorities from
quickly determining who had escaped.
FN5. At the time of his testimony, Oglesby had
pleaded guilty to second degree murder, but had not been sentenced.
He was originally charged with first degree murder, two counts of
kidnapping, and one count of rape; special circumstances also were
alleged. The special circumstance allegations were dropped at a
Penal Code section 995 hearing. As a part of his plea, the remaining
counts and a use allegation were to be dismissed. A supplementary
probation report prepared on Oglesby indicated the charge eventually
would be reduced to manslaughter because he was to testify in other
cases. Oglesby also testified that he understood his attorney had
spoken to the district attorney who was prosecuting defendant's case
about reducing the charges against him to second degree murder. He
also hoped to receive protective housing in another state.
Oglesby received two notes from defendant, one
stating that a female visitor was not the girlfriend who was to be
involved in the escape and the second stating that a female visitor
had a new shotgun for him. A few days after receiving the notes
Oglesby told Lt. Fitzgerald what he knew about the escape. After
talking to Lt. Fitzgerald, Oglesby again communicated with defendant
about an escape. In one note defendant stated that someone on the
outside had obtained dynamite for him. Another note asked whether
they should delay their escape because his brother had been
sentenced to three months for an earlier attempt to help him escape
Oglesby testified he told defendant that it probably
would be better to escape earlier rather than wait. In another note
defendant asked whether they should escape at his next court
appearance or try to go to the Los Angeles County Hospital and
attempt an escape from there. Another note stated that "Blackie" was
a heartbeat away from death and asked if Oglesby's wife had made
arrangements to get weapons.
In a subsequent note defendant
suggested giving Oglesby's wife's phone number to his girlfriend,
observed that his girlfriend had gotten a pump shotgun, and stressed
his hope that Oglesby's wife had weapons. The note also directed
Oglesby to phone his wife and make plans so she could arrange a
meeting with a woman named "Lynn" to help with the escape. The first
target date for the escape was June 12, 1979. The plan was aborted,
however, because defendant had no way of arranging to get Oglesby to
court at the same time.
In addition, Oglesby testified that after
one of defendant's court appearances, defendant told him he had to
cancel the escape attempt because he believed two police vehicles
were following the bus. He then altered the plan so the attempt
would occur after they left court. In addition to relating the
escape plans, Oglesby also testified defendant told him that he,
Blackie, and two others had robbed a motel and had shot the people
inside--a man, a woman and a child, possibly a daughter.
C. The Defense
Defendant presented an alibi defense. Beverly McGowan testified that
on February 27, 1979, the night of Owens' murder, she and defendant
dined and spent the night together. Fred Holiwell, defendant's
stepfather, testified that on Sunday morning, March 11, he arrived
at the Showcase Bar around 3:30 a.m. He stated he thought he saw
defendant there about 5 a.m. in the parking lot area. He remembered
that he had seen his stepson there on this particular night because
defendant had been involved in an altercation and had been cut
across the chest.
Eugene Riley, an inmate in the same cell block as
defendant, testified that on the morning of March 11, 1979, he saw
defendant in the parking lot of the Showcase Bar about 5 a.m. and
gave him a ride home around 5:30 a.m., and that defendant was
smoking a Sherm. [FN6] Joseph McFarland, another inmate in
defendant's cell block, testified he knew Oglesby was a "jailhouse
rat" and that others knew this as well. McFarland stated inmates
gave Oglesby false information because they knew he was an informant.
FN6. Defense counsel attempted to establish
through cross-examination that defendant was a frequent user of PCP
and had been smoking it when the murders occurred.
* * *
We affirm the judgment of guilt, the finding of
five special circumstances, and the judgment of death. The petition
for a writ of habeas corpus is denied. PANELLI, ARGUELLES, EAGLESON
and KAUFMAN, JJ., concur.
In re Williams,
7 Cal.4th 572, 29 Cal.Rptr.2d 64 (Cal. 1994) (State Habeas).
After his conviction for murder and sentence of
death were affirmed, 44 Cal.3d 1127, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635, 751 P.2d
901, defendant sought habeas corpus. The Supreme Court, Lucas, C.J.,
held that: (1) informant had not been a government agent at the time
that he obtained most of the incriminating evidence against
defendant to which he testified; (2) even if he was an agent
thereafter, his testimony concerning evidence that he obtained after
he became an agent, in violation of defendant's Sixth Amendment
right to counsel, was harmless; (3) defendant did not establish
government misconduct which resulted in witnesses not testifying on
his behalf at habeas corpus hearing; and (4) defendant had no right
to compel grant of immunity to the witnesses. Petition denied. Mosk,
J., filed a concurring opinion. LUCAS, Chief Justice.
years ago, we affirmed the judgment of guilt, the finding of special
circumstances, and the sentence of death in this matter. (People v.
Williams (1988) 44 Cal.3d 1127, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635, 751 P.2d 901.) At
the same time, after first issuing an order to show cause and
ordering an evidentiary hearing, we also denied an initial petition
for a writ of habeas corpus (Crim. No. 23806), in which petitioner
asserted the prosecutor illegally used a jailhouse informant to
solicit incriminating evidence from him. (44 Cal.3d at pp.
1140-1141, 1158, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635, 751 P.2d 901.)
In January 1989,
we denied a subsequent habeas corpus petition (S008526) that raised,
inter alia, the same jailhouse informant issue rejected earlier.
Thereafter, petitioner sought relief in the federal district court,
which stayed a pending execution date and ordered petitioner to
exhaust claims not previously presented to this court. Petitioner
filed the present petition (S011868), which again raised, inter alia,
the jailhouse informant issue, but which contained new material
allegations based on previously unavailable information. Thereafter
we issued to the Director of the Department of Corrections an order
to show cause why petitioner's death sentence is not invalid because
it is based on jailhouse informant evidence that was obtained in
violation of defendant's Sixth Amendment rights under Massiah v.
United States (1964) 377 U.S. 201, 84 S.Ct. 1199, 12 L.Ed.2d 246 (hereafter
Massiah ), and United States v. Henry (1980) 447 U.S. 264, 100 S.Ct.
2183, 65 L.Ed.2d 115 (hereafter Henry ).
We subsequently ordered a
second evidentiary hearing and reappointed Judge Paul Egly (who had
served as our referee in the initial habeas corpus proceeding (Crim.
No. 23806)), as referee. Judge Egly's report is now before this
court, as are the parties' postevidentiary hearing briefs. For the
reasons explained below, we will deny the petition and discharge our
order to show cause. Facts and Procedure The facts are stated in our
initial opinion (People v. Williams, supra, 44 Cal.3d at pp.
1133-1138, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635, 751 P.2d 901). As relevant here, they
are as follows: Petitioner, along with three others, robbed and
murdered a convenience store employee. Two weeks later, he robbed
and murdered three members of a family who owned and operated a
At trial, petitioner was linked to these crimes by: (i)
immunized testimony of Alfred Coward, one of petitioner's cohorts in
the first killing, who testified that petitioner shot the store
employee, and that petitioner told the others he did so because he
did not want to leave witnesses; (ii) Coward's additional testimony
that petitioner laughed hysterically and mimicked the noises made by
the store employee as he died; (iii) the testimony of a firearms
expert that shotgun casings found at the scene of the motel murders
were from a gun purchased by petitioner; (iv) immunized testimony by
Samuel Coleman, who testified that petitioner told him on the day
after the killings that he had killed some people who lived on
Vermont Street (the site of the motel); (v) the testimony of both
James and Esther Garrett, in whose home petitioner stayed
approximately five days a week during the period in question, that
petitioner admitted killing some "Chinese people" on Vermont Street;
and (vi) the testimony of Esther Garret that petitioner admitted the
killings, and said he used the money to purchase the drug "PCP." (People
v. Williams, supra, 44 Cal.3d at pp. 1134-1136, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635,
751 P.2d 901.) [FN1] FN1.
Petitioner presented an alibi defense.
Beverly McGowan claimed she was with petitioner on the night of the
store employee's murder. Petitioner's stepfather, Fred Holiwell, and
a fellow inmate, Eugene Riley, testified they saw petitioner at the
Showcase Bar at the time of the motel killings. In addition to this
ample evidence linking petitioner to the killings, the prosecution
offered the testimony of a jailhouse informant, George Oglesby, also
known as "Gunner." As we noted in our opinion on appeal: "At the
time of his testimony, Oglesby had pleaded guilty to second degree
murder, but had not been sentenced. He was originally charged with
first degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of
rape; special circumstances also were alleged. The special
circumstance allegations were dropped at a Penal Code section 995
hearing. As a part of his plea, the remaining counts and a use
allegation were to be dismissed.
A supplementary probation
report prepared on Oglesby indicated the charge eventually would be
reduced to manslaughter because he was to testify in other cases.
Oglesby also testified that he understood his attorney had spoken to
the district attorney who was prosecuting defendant's case about
reducing the charges against him to second degree murder. He also
hoped to receive protective housing in another state." (People v.
Williams, supra, 44 Cal.3d at p. 1136, fn. 5, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635, 751
Oglesby testified that petitioner admitted robbing a
motel and shooting three people. Most important, however, Oglesby
testified about petitioner's escape plans. As we stated in our
opinion on the appeal: "Oglesby testified that in late April
defendant asked him about the chances of escaping from Atascadero or
Patton, where he believed he might be sent. He later asked Oglesby
if he wished to be included in an escape plan and Oglesby indicated
he did. Defendant outlined a plan complete with drawings that
involved escaping while being transferred from jail to court.
According to the plan, as summarized by Oglesby, two people from 'the
outside' would disarm the officer driving the bus. Defendant also
planned to kill a person on the bus who was to testify against him,
as well as the two officers who would accompany the bus.
later modified the plan to include blowing up the bus in order to
prevent the authorities from quickly determining who had escaped. "Oglesby
received two notes from defendant, one stating that a female visitor
was not the girlfriend who was to be involved in the escape and the
second stating that a female visitor had a new shotgun for him. A
few days after receiving the notes Oglesby told Lt. Fitzgerald what
he knew about the escape. "After talking to Lt. Fitzgerald,
again communicated with defendant about an escape. In one note
defendant stated that someone on the outside had obtained dynamite
for him. Another note asked whether they should delay their escape
because his brother had been sentenced to three months for an
earlier attempt to help him escape from jail.
Oglesby testified he
told defendant that it probably would be better to escape earlier
rather than wait. In another note defendant asked whether they
should escape at his next court appearance or try to go to the Los
Angeles County Hospital and attempt an escape from there. Another
note stated that 'Blackie' [i.e., Coward] was a heartbeat away from
death and asked if Oglesby's wife had made arrangements to get
weapons. In a subsequent note defendant suggested giving Oglesby's
wife's phone number to his girlfriend, observed that his girlfriend
had gotten a pump shotgun, and stressed his hope that Oglesby's wife
The note also directed Oglesby to phone his wife and
make plans so she could arrange a meeting with a woman named 'Lynn'
to help with the escape. "The first target date for the escape was
June 12, 1979. The plan was aborted, however, because defendant had
no way of arranging to get Oglesby to court at the same time. In
addition, Oglesby testified that after one of defendant's court
appearances, defendant told him he had to cancel the escape attempt
because he believed two police vehicles were following the bus. He
then altered the plan so the attempt would occur after they left
court." (People v. Williams, supra, 44 Cal.3d at pp. 1136-1137, 245
Cal.Rptr. 635, 751 P.2d 901.) [FN2] FN2. Joseph McFarland, a jail
inmate, testified it was well known that Oglesby was a "jailhouse
snitch," and that other inmates regularly gave him false information.
* * *
Our order to show cause is discharged. The
petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.
Williams v. Woodford,
384 F.3d 567 (9th Cir. 2004) (Habeas).
Background: State prisoner, whose murder
conviction and death sentence were affirmed, 751 P.2d 901, filed
petition for federal habeas corpus. The United States District Court
for the Central District of California, Stephen V. Wilson, J.,
granted partial summary judgment for state, 48 F.Supp.2d 979, denied
petition, 41 F.Supp.2d 1043, and denied prisoner's motion for relief
from judgment, 1999 WL 1320903. Prisoner appealed.
Holdings: On petition for rehearing, the Court of
Appeals, Hug, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) prisoner was not entitled to certificate of appealability (COA)
on Batson claim or claim of interference with prisoner's
relationship with his counsel;
(2) district court lacked jurisdiction to consider prisoner's motion
for relief from judgment;
(3) prisoner was not entitled to evidentiary hearing on claim
regarding excessive security at trial;
(4) any error in shackling prisoner at trial was harmless;
(5) alleged coerced trial testimony of witness did not deprive
prisoner of due process;
(6) state did not violate any duty to disclose exculpatory evidence
(7) prisoner was not deprived of full and fair state hearing on
claim that testimony of state's witness was improperly admitted;
(8) prisoner was competent to stand trial;
(9) defense counsel was not deficient in failing to present mental-state
(10) counsel made reasonable investigation and decision not to
present mitigating evidence at penalty phase of trial; and
(11) jury was not tainted by their alleged perception that prisoner
had threatened them.
Affirmed in part and vacated in part. Opinion, 306 F.3d 665,
HUG, Circuit Judge:
Stanley Williams, a prisoner on California's death row, appeals the
district court's denial of his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus
petition challenging his 1981 conviction of multiple counts of first-degree
murder and armed robbery and his sentence of death. Williams also
appeals the district court's denial of his motion, made under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), for relief from the court's
judgment denying his habeas corpus petition. For the reasons set
forth below, we affirm the district court's denial of Williams's
habeas corpus petition, and we vacate the district court's order
denying Williams's Rule 60(b) motion because the district court
lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
I. The Trial.
On May 3, 1979, the state of California charged Williams with four
counts of first-degree murder, three counts of robbery with the use
of a firearm, one count of kidnapping, and eight special
circumstances of robbery-murder and multiple murder. Williams's
trial commenced on February 10, 1981. We respectfully take the
following account of the trial, in large part, from the California
Supreme Court decision in People v. Williams, 44 Cal.3d 1127, 245
Cal.Rptr. 635, 751 P.2d 901, 905-08 (1988) (en banc) ("Williams I").
We provide additional facts in the discussion, below, as necessary
for consideration of Williams's claims for relief.
A. The Prosecution's Case.
The state presented evidence linking Williams to two separate
incidents of murder and robbery. See Williams I, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635,
751 P.2d at 905- 07.
1. The 7-Eleven Murder and Robbery.
Alfred Coward, an immunized government witness, testified to the
events leading to the murder of Albert Lewis Owens, [FN1] an
employee of a 7-Eleven store in Whittier, California. See id. at
905. Coward stated that at approximately 10:30 p.m. on February 27,
1979, Williams dropped by Coward's house. The two men then went to
James Garrett's house, where Williams was staying. Only Williams
went inside, returning with a sawed-off shotgun and accompanied by a
man named Darryl. The three men made several stops, including one to
obtain "Sherms," cigarettes containing phencyclidene ("PCP"). After
sharing a Sherm, the three picked up Tony Simms. Williams then had a
second Sherm with Coward and Simms, and asked Simms if he knew where
they could "make money." See id.
FN1. The California Supreme Court and the
district court erroneously referred to the victim as Alvin Owens.
See Williams I, 245 Cal.Rptr. 635, 751 P.2d at 905; Williams v.
Calderon, 48 F.Supp.2d 979, 986 (C.D.Cal.1998).
Coward testified that, taking two cars, the four
men made two unsuccessful restaurant and liquor-store robbery
attempts. Subsequently, they went to a 7- Eleven where Owens was
sweeping the parking lot. Simms and Darryl went into the store,
followed by Owens, Williams, and Coward. Williams, the only one with
a weapon, approached Owens and ordered him to keep walking. Owens
walked toward the back rooms of the store with Williams and Coward
following him. Williams instructed Owens to lie down, which he did.
Williams shot out the store's television monitor and then shot and
killed Owens. See id.
According to Coward, the four men returned to
Simms's house where they divided among them the $120 that they had
taken from the 7-Eleven cash register. When Simms asked Williams why
he had shot Owens, Williams responded that he did not want to leave
any witnesses. He also said that the shotgun shells could not be
traced, and that he had retrieved a few of them. See id.
Coward saw Williams later that morning at
Williams's brother's home. Williams told his brother about Owens,
saying: "You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him."
Williams then made a growling noise and laughed hysterically for a
number of minutes. See id.
2. The Brookhaven Motel Murders and Robbery.
Robert Yang and his family lived in and owned the Brookhaven Motel
on South Vermont Street in Los Angeles, California. At about 5 a.m.
on March 11, 1979, Yang heard a woman's screams and three or four
shots. A few minutes later, he left his bedroom and saw that the
door separating the motel office from the family's living quarters
was ajar. The door seemed to have been forced open from the outside.
Yang discovered his father, mother, and sister, all fatally wounded
from shotgun fire. The cash drawer was open and empty. See id. at
906. The police found two shotgun shell casings at the scene. A
firearms expert testified that one of the shells could only have
been fired from a weapon that Williams had purchased in 1974. See id.
Four witnesses provided testimony identifying
Williams as a perpetrator of the Brookhaven Motel murders and
robbery. Samuel Coleman, testifying as an immunized government
witness, stated that on March 10, 1979 he and Williams went to the
Showcase Bar, where Coleman remained until it closed around 6 a.m.
Coleman last remembered seeing Williams at about 2:30 a.m. The next
day, Williams told Coleman that he had robbed and killed some people
on Vermont Street. Williams said that he had obtained approximately
$50 from the robbery-murder and was going to use it to buy PCP. See
James Garrett testified that Williams kept some
of his possessions at the Garrett house and stayed there
approximately five days a week. Early on the morning of March 13,
1979, Williams told James Garrett and his wife that he had heard of
the killing of some "Chinese people" on Vermont Street. Williams
said that he did not know how the murders had occurred, but thought
that the murderers were professionals because they had left no
shells or witnesses at the scene. Williams also stated that he had
heard that the killings had taken place at 5 a.m., and that two men
had knocked down the door and taken $600. See id.
spoke to James Garrett a second time about the Brookhaven Motel
murders and robbery. Williams described the incident, saying: "[A]fter
the big guy knocked the door down, he went in the motel, and there
was a guy laying on the couch, and he blew him away." Williams said
that the man on the couch and a woman at the cash register were shot
twice, and that another woman was also shot. James Garrett testified
that Williams then indicated that he was the "big guy." See id.
James Garrett also provided testimony linking Williams to the 7-
Eleven murder. According to Garrett, Williams admitted that he had
killed a white man in a store by shooting him in the head with a
shotgun while the man was on his hands and knees. See Williams I,
245 Cal.Rptr. 635, 751 P.2d at 906 n. 4.
Esther Garrett confirmed the statements made by
her husband. She testified that Williams informed them that the
Brookhaven Motel murderers were using the money taken from the cash
register to buy "juice," or PCP, and that they had picked up the
shotgun shells so that there would be no evidence for the police.
Williams also told Esther Garrett, outside the presence of her
husband, that he, Williams, had committed the murders with his
brother-in-law. See id.
George Oglesby, an inmate housed in the same cell
block as Williams, testified that Williams admitted to shooting a
man, a woman, and a child in the course of robbing a motel. See id.
at 906-07. Oglesby also testified in detail to Williams's plan to
escape from jail. Williams had invited Oglesby to participate in the
plan, which was complete with drawings and involved an escape during
a bus transfer from jail to court. See id. at 907.
outside of jail were to disarm the officer driving the bus, and then
Williams was to kill the person on the bus who planned to testify
against Williams, as well as the two officers accompanying the bus.
Williams later modified the plan to include blowing up the bus in
order to prevent the authorities from quickly determining who had
escaped. See id. After receiving two notes from Williams relating
information about outside participants in the escape plan, Oglesby
informed Lieutenant Fitzgerald of the planned escape. Williams
subsequently sent Oglesby more notes discussing the escape. See id.
The initial target date for the escape was June
12, 1979. However, Williams aborted the escape attempt planned for
this day because he could not ensure that he and Oglesby would be
transferred to court at the same time. In addition, after one of his
court appearances, Williams informed Oglesby that the escape attempt
had to be cancelled because Williams believed that two police
vehicles had followed the bus transporting Williams between jail and
court. Williams then altered the escape plan so that the escape
attempt would occur after they left court. See id.
B. The Defense.
Williams presented an alibi defense. Beverly McGowan testified that
she and Williams had dined and spent the night together on February
27, 1979, the night of Owens's murder. See id.
Fred Holiwell, Williams's stepfather, testified
that he arrived at the Showcase Bar at around 3:30 a.m. on March 11,
1979, the morning of the Brookhaven Motel murders and robbery. He
stated that he thought he saw Williams in the Showcase Bar parking
lot area at about 5 a.m. Holiwell remembered seeing Williams at the
Showcase Bar on this particular night because Williams had been
involved in an altercation that resulted in a cut across Williams's
chest. See id. Eugene Riley, an inmate in the same cell block as
Williams, testified that he saw Williams in the parking lot of the
Showcase Bar at about 5 a.m. on March 11, 1979. Riley gave Williams
a ride home at approximately 5:30 a.m. and said that Williams was
smoking a Sherm at the time. See id.
Joseph McFarland, another inmate in Williams's
cell block, provided testimony impeaching Oglesby's credibility.
McFarland stated that Oglesby was a well-known "jailhouse rat," and
that other inmates gave Oglesby false information because they knew
him to be a government informant. See id. at 907- 08. Through the
use of cross-examination, defense counsel also brought out the
motivations of the prosecution's witnesses to lie.
C. The Jury Verdict.
On March 13, 1981, the jury returned guilty verdicts against
Williams on four counts of first-degree murder and two counts of
robbery using a firearm. [FN3] The jury also found to be true the
eight special circumstances of robbery-murder and multiple murder.
Following a penalty phase, at which neither the prosecution nor the
defense put on any evidence, the jury returned a death sentence. On
April 15, 1981, the trial court imposed a judgment of death.
FN3. The state had dismissed the third count of
armed robbery and the kidnapping count on February 25, 1981.
II. The Appeal and Post-Conviction Proceedings.
Pursuant to California's 1978 death penalty law, Williams's
conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the
California Supreme Court. While the appeal was pending, on June 25,
1984, Williams filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus,
which was consolidated with his direct appeal. See id. at 905. The
California Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing on issues
raised in the habeas corpus petition. An appointed referee conducted
a five-day hearing and made factual findings on the issues of
whether (1) Oglesby was a government agent that deliberately
elicited incriminating statements from Williams in violation of the
Sixth Amendment, (2) Oglesby was a government agent that
interrogated Williams in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and (3)
Williams's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to
Oglesby's testimony under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments and
correlative provisions of the California Constitution. See id. at
908. On April 11, 1988, the California Supreme Court issued an
opinion affirming Williams's conviction and sentence and denying his
habeas corpus petition. See id. at 921. The California Supreme Court
denied Williams's petition for rehearing, and the United States
Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. See
Williams v. California, 488 U.S. 975, 109 S.Ct. 514, 102 L.Ed.2d 549
On January 9, 1989, Williams filed a second state
habeas corpus petition, which the California Supreme Court summarily
denied. Williams filed a federal habeas corpus petition in the
United States District Court for the Central District of California
on January 23, 1989. The district court ordered the petition held in
abeyance pending exhaustion of all of Williams's claims in state
On September 1, 1989, Williams filed a third
state habeas corpus petition with the California Supreme Court,
which ordered another evidentiary hearing on the question of whether
the prosecution used Oglesby as a government agent in violation of
Williams's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. See In re Williams, 7
Cal.4th 572, 29 Cal.Rptr.2d 64, 870 P.2d 1072, 1074 (1994) (en banc)
("Williams II"). After the second hearing and a post-hearing
briefing, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion on April
11, 1994 that denied the habeas corpus petition. See id. at 1095.
The Court also denied Williams's petition for rehearing. On June 21,
1995, the California Supreme Court denied Williams's fourth and
final state habeas corpus petition on the merits and on procedural
After exhausting his claims in state court,
Williams filed with the district court an amended federal habeas
corpus petition on November 13, 1995. Granting, in part, the state's
motion for summary judgment on March 27, 1998, the district court
denied twenty-four of the twenty-eight claims raised in Williams's
amended federal petition. See Williams v. Calderon, 48 F.Supp.2d
979, 1032 (C.D.Cal.1998) ("Williams III"). On May 27-28, 1998, the
district court held an evidentiary hearing, at which witnesses were
called and exhibits submitted, on Williams's claims that he was
unconstitutionally shackled at trial and that his trial counsel
rendered ineffective assistance in violation of the Sixth Amendment.
See Williams v. Calderon, 41 F.Supp.2d 1043, 1046 (C.D.Cal.1998) ("Williams
The district court issued an opinion denying Williams's
remaining claims on December 21, 1998, see id. at 1060- 61, and
entered judgment accordingly on December 23, 1998. On January 8,
1999, Williams filed a motion asking the district court to amend its
findings of fact and judgment under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
52(b) and 59(e). While the motion to amend was still pending, on
January 22, 1999, Williams noticed his intent to appeal the district
court's December 23, 1998 judgment and also requested a certificate
of probable cause ("CPC") in the event that the district court
denied his motion to amend. On May 21, 1999, the district court did
deny Williams's motion to amend, but granted his application for a
CPC to appeal the denial of his federal habeas corpus petition.
Williams filed an amended notice of appeal on June 3, 1999,
indicating his intent to appeal the district court's order denying
his motion to amend.
On November 17, 1999, Williams filed with the
district court a motion for relief from judgment under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 60(b), which the district court denied on
December 17, 1999. On December 29, 1999, Williams noticed his intent
to appeal the district court's order and requested a CPC for this
purpose. The district court denied Williams's request on January 28,
2000. On February 10, 2000, Williams filed an amended notice of
appeal, which we treated as an application to this court for a
certificate of appealability ("COA"). On May 5, 2000, we granted a
COA limited to the issues raised by the district court's denial of
Williams's Rule 60(b) motion.
* * *
2. Ingber Made A Reasonable Strategic Decision
Not To Present Mitigating Evidence.
Turning to the four reasons that supported Ingber's decision not to
present mitigating evidence at the penalty phase, we now explain why
these reasons made Ingber's decision a reasonable penalty-phase
(a) The Evidence Available Was Not Especially
Ingber legitimately concluded that the available
evidence regarding Williams's family and life history, drug use, and
mental state offered only weak mitigation, if that. At the federal
evidentiary hearing, Ingber testified that the evidence of
Williams's troubled family background was by no means uniformly
helpful because it suggested violent propensities that were at odds
with the goal of portraying Williams as less culpable. For example,
Dr. Coodley's mental-health report to the court indicated that
Williams often clashed with his sister because he believed his
mother favored her, and that he resented his absent father, whom he
wanted to attack. Ingber noted that, on the one hand, these family
relationships "could have created some type of psychological
problems" that would make Williams seem less blameworthy.
other hand, Ingber did not "want th[e] jury to hear that [Williams]
wants to attack his father and [has] this ongoing hostility with his
sister." Ingber made a reasonable strategic decision to keep these
potentially damaging facts from the jury. See id. at 793, 107 S.Ct.
3114 (counsel was not deficient for failing to present "information
about petitioner's troubled family background that could have
affected the jury adversely by introducing facts [suggesting violent
tendencies and encounters with law enforcement authorities] not
disclosed by his clean adult criminal record").
Ingber also exercised reasonable professional
judgment in concluding that a penalty-phase defense that relied upon
Williams's drug use and mental state was not practicable, and would
have detracted from a viable defense strategy that capitalized on
any lingering doubt that the jury might have had regarding
Williams's guilt. Ingber testified that a defense of diminished
mental capacity was "raisable," but not "potentially sellable to a
jury" because it lacked support in the opinions of the mental-health
experts that examined Williams and in the facts of the case.
Although Dr. Coodley had indicated a possibility of diminished
mental capacity at the time of the alleged offenses due to PCP use,
Ingber believed that any testimony by Dr. Coodley, or any other
psychiatrist, about Williams's diminished mental capacity would be
subject to persuasive expert testimony to the contrary. The
prosecutor had notice of the appointment of Drs. Coburn and Siegel,
both of whom had rejected a conclusion of Williams's diminished
mental capacity from drug use. From the failure of the defense to
call Drs. Coburn or Siegel as witnesses, the prosecutor could infer
that their opinions were not favorable to the defense.
his experience, Ingber knew that the prosecutor would likely
subpoena these appointed experts to rebut any claim of Williams's
diminished mental capacity at the time of the offenses. We do not
question Ingber's professional judgment on this matter because "[i]t
is ... acceptable trial strategy to choose not to call psychiatrists
to testify when they can be subjected to cross-examination based on
equally persuasive psychiatric opinions that reach a different
conclusion." Harris, 949 F.2d at 1525.
Furthermore, Ingber respected Dr. Coburn's
opinion that the witness statements to the police provided no basis
for believing that PCP materially affected Williams's behavior or
thought patterns at the time of the crimes. The facts of the crimes
reflected deliberate and methodical action. The prosecution's
witnesses testified that Williams shot out the television monitor at
the 7-Eleven, killed witnesses to the crimes, and then picked up the
expended shotgun shells all to escape detection.
experience, a jury would not find credible a claim of diminished
mental capacity unless there was evidence of drug use
contemporaneous with the crimes and also a specific effect on the
defendant's state of mind. No lay witness that Ingber interviewed "was
going to testify that Mr. Williams was materially affected by the
use of ... PCP, that [PCP] caused his activities on the evening in
question [and] prevent[ed] him from having a specific intent to
commit the robberies." Given the facts of the crimes and the lack of
credible evidence of contemporaneous drug use impacting Williams's
mental state, Ingber's decision that a defense of diminished mental
capacity was not feasible certainly fell "within the wide range of
reasonable professional assistance." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689,
104 S.Ct. 2052.
Finally, Ingber reasonably concluded that
presenting evidence in support of a nonviable diminished-mental-capacity
defense would detract from a viable lingering-doubt defense. Ingber
was "terribly reluctant to [present psychiatric evidence] because
[he thought] it would ... diffuse whatever [they] had going for [them]
on a lingering doubt concept.... It would be like [they] were just
throwing everything up on the wall and ask[ing] the jurors [to pick
Ingber thought it better to focus the jurors' attention
on an argument that lingering doubt regarding Williams's guilt
counseled against a death-penalty verdict. As we discuss in more
detail below, and as the district court aptly noted, a lingering-doubt
strategy was viable because "[t]here were no eyewitnesses to the
Brookhaven Motel murders and the only eyewitness to the 7-Eleven
murder was an accomplice who had a strong motive to lie.
prosecutor's case was based on circumstantial evidence and the
testimony of witnesses whose credibility was highly suspect."
Williams IV, 41 F.Supp.2d at 1052. We cannot fault Ingber's
reasonable strategic decision to capitalize on any lingering doubts
of the jurors and to keep from them mental-state and drug-use
evidence that might jeopardize their lingering doubts. See Harris,
949 F.2d at 1525 (it was "professionally competent assistance for [counsel]
to choose not to present a psychiatric defense theory that could
conflict with ... his mitigation based on [the defendant's] alleged
remorse and his abusive childhood") (internal quotations omitted);
Siripongs v. Calderon, 133 F.3d 732, 736 (9th Cir.1998) ("defense
counsel made a reasonable tactical decision to capitalize on any
lingering doubts about [the defendant's] actual involvement in the
crimes themselves and to keep from the jury any evidence [in support
of an accomplice defense] that [the defendant] had participated in
the criminal activity").
(b) The Presentation Of Mitigating Evidence Would
Open The Door To Damaging Rebuttal Evidence Of Williams's Gang
Ingber exercised reasonable professional judgment
when he decided not to present mitigating evidence because, in his
words, "the vehicle of mitigation [could] create a worse picture
than [had] already been presented, which was not good." Under
California Penal Code § 190.3, the prosecution was required to give
the defense notice before the start of the trial's guilt phase of
any evidence to be introduced in aggravation at the penalty phase.
Prior to trial, the prosecution did not notice its intent to
introduce any aggravating evidence, which to Ingber was "a cue that
they think the case itself is aggravating enough."
Ingber then filed
a motion, which was granted, to preclude evidence in aggravation
because he had received no timely indication from the prosecution
that they intended to present any. Knowing that the prosecution was
thus bound to rely on the evidence of the guilt phase, Ingber was
faced with the question of whether to present mitigating evidence,
which would allow the prosecution to introduce evidence in rebuttal
without any notice to the defense. See Cal.Penal Code § 190.3
Ingber knew that the prosecution was aware of
evidence of Williams's gang affiliation, although Ingber did not
know the exact scope of the evidence available to the prosecution.
As outlined above, the "murder books" contained damaging admissions
from Williams in his Mirandized police interview--that he was a
leader of the westside Crips, and that he was "mean," combative, and
unmoved by the thought of killing another human being.
James Garrett's statements to the police about Williams's gang activities
were equally harmful, indicating that Williams was a top gang leader
that made his reputation in "gang banging." Williams did not have a
prior criminal record, and no gang evidence had come in at the guilt
phase. However, Ingber had strong reason to believe that if he
presented evidence in mitigation at the penalty phase, the
prosecutor would seek to introduce gang evidence in rebuttal.
Before trial, Ingber had brought to the court's
attention that "there has been numerous and repeated reference in
the discovery, which was generously provided to [the defense] by [the
prosecution], in interviews of witnesses concerning activity that
could be described as gang activity. [Ingber] noted Mr. Murray and
Mr. Garrett and Mr. Coleman and Mr. Coward." Ingber argued that "[g]angs
are not an issue in this case," and requested that "those People's
witnesses be requested to refrain from voluntarily making such
reference" to any gang activity.
The prosecutor represented that "the
People have no intention at this time of introducing testimony
concerning gangs, unless it comes out either from the psychiatric
standpoint or the standpoint of the defense and rebuttal." The
prosecutor asserted that if Williams put his state of mind in issue,
then his gang activities--particularly his own statements regarding
his gang activities--would be relevant to his state of mind. The
court decided that "before any statements are offered having to do
with gang activity, that matter should be brought to the attention
of the court so that [there] can [be] an appropriate ruling on the
relevancy issue." At that point, the court was "not in a position to
say what is relevant and what is not."
In response to Ingber's
contention that Williams's statements to the police about his gang
affiliation were not voluntary, the court declared that "[i]f any
statements of the defendant are going to be offered, of course, we
have to have a hearing as to their voluntariness, and rights, and so
on and so forth."
Given this pre-trial argument before the court,
Ingber had substantial basis for believing that any mitigating
evidence proffered would meet with an offer of rebuttal evidence in
the form of gang activity. If the defense presented sympathetic
evidence to humanize Williams before the jury, then the prosecution
would likely counter with gang evidence to portray him as a
heartless killing machine. If the defense introduced evidence to
suggest that Williams's troubled family background or diminished
mental capacity caused the offenses at issue, then the prosecution
would probably present gang evidence to show that the offenses were
part of Williams's gang lifestyle, not the result of any family
problems or diminished mental capacity.
Ingber knew that the
prosecution had available to it witnesses that could testify to
Williams's gang involvement because these witnesses had already
testified for the state at the guilt phase. Moreover, Ingber noted
that California law in 1981 broadly allowed for the admission of
rebuttal gang evidence. Ingber was also of the opinion that the
trial judge would admit the evidence because the judge "was quite
liberal in allowing rebuttal evidence" and had given the prosecutor
"a lot of elasticity throughout the trial."
It was Ingber's experience that when jurors are
presented with evidence of gang activity, "they are likely to
conclude that it is predominating rather than the mental defect or
the diminished capacity." Ingber was also "aware of the fact that
the opportunity for the introduction of rebuttal evidence can be
more devastating sometimes than the introduction of the evidence in
In this case, Ingber thought that Coward and possibly
the other men involved in the 7-Eleven robbery-murder were Crips
members. Ingber feared that the introduction of rebuttal gang
evidence would allow the prosecution to depict the 7-Eleven robbery-murder
as four gang members "leaving South Central Los Angeles and going
out to Whittier," which is about twelve miles southeast of Los
Angeles, "to execute the clerk by having him bend down in the back
room and Mr. Williams shoot him in the back." Ingber felt that
portraying these crimes as part and parcel of gang life would only "expand[
] an already horrendous situation." Because by statute the
prosecution could not present any evidence in aggravation, Ingber
concluded that "[i]t was foolish" to present mitigating evidence
that he "didn't think would help [his] client, but would hurt him"
by opening the door to damaging rebuttal evidence of his gang
We do not second-guess Ingber's reasonable
professional judgment. The Supreme Court and this court have
consistently held that counsel's performance is not deficient for
the failure to present evidence in mitigation at the penalty phase
when counsel's decision is based upon a reasonable tactical
determination that the mitigating evidence would allow for the
introduction of rebuttal evidence "that might be literally fatal."
Burger, 483 U.S. at 791- 94, 107 S.Ct. 3114 (counsel's failure to
present any mitigating evidence, including the defendant's own
testimony or the testimony of the defendant's mother that he had an
exceptionally unhappy and physically abusive childhood, or the
expert testimony of a psychologist, was reasonable professional
judgment because the testimony would risk bringing before the jury
evidence of the defendant's unremorseful attitude, violent
tendencies, and prior criminal acts); see Strickland, 466 U.S. at
699, 104 S.Ct. 2052 (counsel's decision not to present mitigating
evidence of the defendant's character or mental state was a
reasonable strategic choice because (1) counsel could rely upon the
defendant's statements regarding his financial troubles, extreme
emotional distress, and acceptance of responsibility for the crimes
that came in at the plea colloquy, (2) the mitigating evidence would
have been of little help, and (3) would have opened the door to
damaging rebuttal evidence of the defendant's criminal history and
contrary opinions regarding the defendant's character and mental
state); Darden v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 168, 186-87, 106 S.Ct. 2464,
91 L.Ed.2d 144 (1986) (counsel's decision not to present character
or mental-state evidence in mitigation, and instead to rely upon a
simple plea for mercy from the defendant himself, was sound trial
strategy because the mitigating evidence would have opened the door
to damaging rebuttal evidence of the defendant's prior convictions,
marital infidelity, and a psychiatric opinion that the defendant was
a sociopathic personality who was very capable of committing the
crimes at issue); Siripongs, 133 F.3d at 736-37 (counsel reasonably
decided not to present mitigating testimony from the defendant's
friends and family, particularly from his mother regarding his
financial support of her and his abusive and dysfunctional family
life during childhood, because doing so would risk the introduction
of rebuttal evidence of the defendant's prior criminal conduct);
Campbell v. Kincheloe, 829 F.2d 1453, (9th Cir.1987) (counsel's
failure to present any mitigating evidence, including evidence that
the defendant had an alcoholic father, was a victim of child abuse,
suffered from various medical problems as a child, had a history of
drug and alcohol abuse, had attempted suicide, and was the father of
two children, was a reasoned strategic choice because evidence in
mitigation would have opened the door to devastating rebuttal
evidence that he forcibly raped his ex-wife, repeatedly raped fellow
inmates, was involved in drug and alcohol-induced violence, and
participated in sexually abhorrent conduct with children and animals).
Moreover, we have previously recognized that in
the early 1980s, "evidence of criminal conduct alone, independent of
a conviction, was admissible in California for a wide variety of
purposes at the penalty phase," and that the scope of admissible
rebuttal evidence "was a 'frequent source of uncertainty for both
trial counsel and trial courts.' " Siripongs, 133 F.3d at 736 (quoting
In re Jackson, 3 Cal.4th 578, 11 Cal.Rptr.2d 531, 835 P.2d 371, 394
(1992) (en banc)); see also People v. Gonzalez, 51 Cal.3d 1179, 275
Cal.Rptr. 729, 800 P.2d 1159, 1200 (1990) (en banc) ("the limits of
permissible rebuttal were not so clear at the time of the
defendant's trials in 1980 and 1981").
Given this state of the law
and Ingber's experience that the trial judge liberally allowed
rebuttal evidence, see Campbell, 829 F.2d at 1462-63 (deferring to
counsel's professional judgment, based upon his experience and
education, that the trial judge would deny any motion in limine to
exclude the harmful rebuttal evidence), Ingber was understandably
concerned that the judge would admit the prosecution's damaging
rebuttal evidence of Williams's gang activities. Under the
circumstances, Ingber made a reasonable tactical decision to leave
the jury with the impression that Williams had no gang involvement,
rather than risk introduction of gang evidence that in all
likelihood would have overwhelmed the mitigating evidence presented.
(c) Williams Specifically Requested That No
Witnesses Be Called At The Penalty Phase.
Ingber also reasonably took into consideration
his client's desire that no witnesses be called to testify at the
penalty phase. "The reasonableness of counsel's actions may be
determined or substantially influenced by the defendant's own
statements or actions." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 699, 104 S.Ct. 2052.
In accordance with his usual practice, Ingber broached the subject
of penalty-phase witnesses with Williams in advance of the jury's
verdict in the guilt phase.
Certain witnesses were available to the
defense to provide mitigating testimony at the penalty phase, and
Ingber thought it prudent to consider presenting evidence in
mitigation in every case. Ingber explained to Williams that the
purpose of introducing the witnesses' testimony was "[t]o try to
influence the jury to render a verdict of life without possibility
of parole instead of the death penalty." Nonetheless, Williams's "feelings
were intense about not calling anyone." Williams did not want to
testify himself, nor did he want any family members, friends,
mental-health experts, or other potential witnesses to testify.
We reject Williams's argument that he told Ingber
only that he did not want his mother or step-father to testify, and
that he put no restrictions on Ingber's calling of other witnesses.
The district court found specifically that Williams's "prohibition
was not limited to his mother and step-father, but included mental
health experts and any other potential witness." Williams IV, 41
F.Supp.2d at 1050. Support for the district court's factual finding
exists in Ingber's statements on the record before the trial court,
in Ingber's deposition conducted in conjunction with the federal
habeas corpus proceedings below, and in Ingber's testimony at the
federal evidentiary hearing before the district court. Accordingly,
the factual finding is not clearly erroneous. See Easley, 532 U.S.
at 242, 121 S.Ct. 1452 (reversal of a district court's factual
finding is appropriate under the "clear error" standard only when "on
the entire evidence" the appellate court is "left with the definite
and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed").
Before the penalty phase commenced, Ingber
brought to the trial court's attention Willliams's opposition to
calling witnesses to testify in mitigation. Ingber represented, "I
do believe that I do have available to me witnesses who would help
this jury make the ultimate determination. By the same token, I do
have to regard the wishes of my client in connection with the
noncalling of certain witnesses." When Ingber requested that
Williams state on the record whether he wanted to testify at the
penalty phase, Williams responded, "Hell no."
Ingber also asked
Williams to express his opinion "concerning the calling of certain
other witnesses." After a discussion held off the record, Ingber
stated, "He is shaking his head and indicating to me it is his
desire, his wish, that no other witnesses be called in the penalty
phase." The court recessed so that Ingber and Williams might confer
further on the subject. After the break, Ingber informed the court,
"It's the defendant's desire that no one testify on his behalf in
this phase, and I acquiesce to the desires of the defendant. So
there will be no testimony called in this phase of the trial." The
trial court addressed Williams directly and strongly urged him to
present mitigating evidence. When the court asked Williams whether
he had enough time to discuss the matter with counsel, Williams
declined to respond.
In the federal proceedings below, Ingber
testified that Williams's aversion to the calling of penalty-phase
witnesses was only one of the factors that influenced Ingber's
ultimate decision not to present mitigating evidence. Ingber
acknowledged, "It's my job sometimes to overlook what [my clients]
say and do what I think is in their best interest with my experience."
However, in this particular case, Ingber concluded that the factors
converged. His assessment that the available mitigating evidence was
weak and his trepidation that the prosecution would introduce
damaging gang evidence in rebuttal, coupled with Williams's
resistance to the presentation of witness testimony, all persuaded
Ingber to forsake mitigating evidence at the penalty phase and rely
upon an argument that capitalized on any lingering doubts of the
jurors regarding Williams's guilt.
Although our case law "does not quite say that
the defendant absolutely controls" counsel's representation,
Landrigan v. Stewart, 272 F.3d 1221, 1226 (9th Cir.2001), "[t]he
client's wishes are not to be ignored entirely." Campbell, 829 F.2d
at 1463; see also Gerlaugh v. Stewart, 129 F.3d 1027, 1034-35 (9th
Cir.1997) (counsel was not ineffective at the penalty phase for
failing to develop and use psychological evidence because, inter
alia, the defendant's personal wish that "he did not want to undergo
a psychological examination" was "entitled to respect").
A defendant's insistence that counsel not call
witnesses at the penalty phase does not eliminate counsel's duty to
investigate mitigating evidence or to advise the defendant of the
potential consequences of failing to introduce mitigating evidence,
thereby assuring that the defendant's decision regarding such
evidence is informed and knowing. See Silva, 279 F.3d at 838 (counsel
rendered ineffective assistance at the penalty phase by not
informing the defendant, who opposed calling certain witnesses, of
the potential significance of mitigating evidence, and by not
conducting any investigation of the defendant's background).
having reasonably investigated mitigating evidence and prepared for
the penalty phase, counsel is not deficient for failing to introduce
evidence in mitigation when the defendant makes an informed and
knowing decision not to present the evidence. See Jeffries v.
Blodgett, 5 F.3d 1180, 1197-98 (9th Cir.1993) (counsel, which had
been prepared to present a mitigation case, was not ineffective for
failing to present mitigating evidence when the defendant made a
considered decision not to introduce evidence in mitigation).
Counsel also cannot be faulted for deferring to the defendant's
desire to forgo presentation of mitigating evidence when the
defendant's wish coincides with counsel's reasonable professional
judgment that no mitigating evidence be introduced. Campbell, 829
F.2d at 1462 n. 5, 1463 (counsel's acceptance of the defendant's
decision not to present mitigating evidence did not constitute
ineffective assistance when counsel had legitimate strategic reasons
for not presenting the evidence).
In the instant case, Ingber appropriately
considered Williams's desire that no witnesses be called in making
the ultimate decision not to present any evidence in mitigation. As
already discussed, Ingber reasonably investigated mitigating
evidence in preparation for the penalty phase. See Silva, 279 F.3d
at 838 (the defendant's directive that counsel not call particular
witnesses did not extinguish counsel's duty to investigate the
defendant's personal history in order to ascertain mitigating
Moreover, the trial record shows that Ingber had
witnesses that would have testified at the penalty phase if he, in
consultation with Williams, decided to introduce mitigating evidence.
At the same time that Ingber brought to the trial court's attention
Williams's insistence that no witnesses testify, Ingber informed the
court that defense witnesses were available to testify that day if
necessary. Ingber also notified the court that if the defense were
to put on mitigating evidence, he would seek a continuance so that
he might call other witnesses whom he was unable to reach between
the Friday on which the jury returned its verdict in the guilt phase
and the following Tuesday on which the penalty phase was scheduled
Thus, although Ingber could not recall at the federal
evidentiary hearing who, besides Williams's mother and step-father,
these defense witnesses were due to the loss of his original trial
file and the passage of seventeen years, it is apparent from the
trial record that Ingber was prepared to go forward with a
mitigation case if he determined that was the most prudent course of
action. See Jeffries, 5 F.3d at 1197-98 (although the defendant
ultimately asked counsel not to introduce evidence in mitigation,
counsel was prepared to present a mitigation case).
In conferring with Williams about calling
witnesses at the penalty phase, Ingber adequately informed Williams
of the potential ramifications of failing to present evidence in
mitigation. See Silva, 279 F.3d at 838 (competent counsel must
advise the defendant of the potential consequences of a decision not
to introduce mitigating evidence). Ingber advised Williams that the
purpose of mitigating evidence was to influence the jury to return a
sentence of life imprisonment rather than the death penalty, and
Ingber discussed with Williams what mitigating evidence might be
presented. Ingber had no doubt that Williams fully understood the
potential consequences of his wish that no witnesses testify at the
The trial judge also impressed upon Williams the
importance of presenting mitigating evidence. Williams therefore
made an informed and knowing decision to forgo evidence in
mitigation at the penalty phase. See Jeffries, 5 F.3d at 1198 (the
defendant's decision not to introduce mitigating evidence was
informed and knowing when counsel had discussed with him the
ramifications of failing to present the evidence and he appeared to
Williams's request that no witnesses testify also
coincided with Ingber's reasonable professional judgment that
introducing mitigating evidence was unlikely to help Williams much,
and would probably harm him by allowing the prosecutor to present
damaging rebuttal evidence of Williams's gang activities.
Accordingly, the deference that Ingber showed Williams's request is
beyond criticism. See Campbell, 829 F.2d at 1462 n. 5, 1463 (counsel
reasonably deferred to the defendant's wish that no witnesses be
called when that wish was in accord with counsel's reasonable
strategic decision not to present mitigating evidence). "Counsel's
actions are usually based, quite properly, on informed strategic
choices made by the defendant and on information supplied by the
defendant." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 691, 104 S.Ct. 2052. Ingber
reasonably factored Williams's wishes into the balance of
considerations that ultimately persuaded Ingber not to introduce
evidence in mitigation at the penalty phase.
(d) Lingering Doubt Regarding Williams's Guilt
Was A Viable Defense.
Finally, Ingber reasonably selected a lingering-doubt
defense for the penalty phase. As already touched upon, the
prosecution's case lent itself to such a defense because the case
comprised of circumstantial evidence and the testimony of witnesses
with less-than-clean backgrounds and incentives to lie in order to
obtain leniency from the state in either charging or sentencing. No
eyewitness linked Williams to the Brookhaven Motel robbery and
murders, and the credibility of the sole eyewitness to the 7-Eleven
robbery and murder, Alfred Coward, was suspect because he was an
accomplice that received government immunity in exchange for his
testimony against Williams. Ingber therefore could persuasively
argue that lingering doubt about Williams's guilt counseled against
a death-penalty verdict.
Furthermore, the lingering-doubt defense
offered strategic advantages. Pursuing the defense did not require
introduction of mitigating evidence that would open the door to
damaging rebuttal evidence of Williams's gang activities. In
choosing the defense, Ingber also avoided conflict with Williams by
respecting Williams's request that no witnesses testify at the
In sum, based upon our review of the reasons
underlying Ingber's penalty-phase strategy, we cannot fault Ingber's
sound tactical decision to present a lingering-doubt defense in lieu
of a defense based upon mitigating evidence of Williams's family and
life history, drug use, or mental state. We note in this regard that
the defense of " 'residual doubt has been recognized as an extremely
effective argument for defendants in capital cases.' " Lockhart v.
McCree, 476 U.S. 162, 181, 106 S.Ct. 1758, 90 L.Ed.2d 137 (1986) (quoting
Grigsby v. Mabry, 758 F.2d 226, 248 (8th Cir.1985) (en banc) (Gibson,
J., dissenting)). A comprehensive study on the opinions of jurors in
capital cases concluded:
"Residual doubt" over the defendant's guilt is
the most powerful "mitigating fact." ... [T]he best thing a capital
defendant can do to improve his chances of receiving a life sentence
has nothing to do with mitigating evidence strictly speaking. The
best thing he can do, all else being equal, is to raise doubt about
his guilt. Stephen P. Garvey, Aggravation and Mitigation in Capital
Cases: What Do Jurors Think?, 98 COLUM. L. REV. 1538, 1563 (1998) (footnote
omitted); accord William S. Geimer & Jonathan Amsterdam, Why Jurors
Vote Life or Death: Operative Factors in Ten Florida Death Penalty
Cases, 15 AM. J. CRIM. L. 1, 28 (1988) ("The existence of some
degree of doubt about the guilt of the accused was the most often
recurring explanatory factor in the life recommendation cases
We conclude that Ingber performed capably at the penalty
phase. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's denial of
Williams's penalty-phase claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
We do not reach Williams's claim that the district court erred in
its alternative holding that Williams suffered no prejudice from
Ingber's performance at the penalty phase.
* * *
CONCLUSION Finding no constitutional basis to
disturb Williams's 1981 conviction or death sentence, we affirm the
district court's judgment denying Williams's habeas corpus petition.
We also vacate the district court's order denying Williams's Rule
60(b) motion because the district court lacked jurisdiction to
consider the motion. With these holdings, we necessarily conclude
that Williams is not entitled to relief from his conviction or
sentence in the federal courts. We note, however, that the federal
courts are not the only forum for relief, and that Williams may file
a petition for clemency with the Governor of California. See CAL.
CONST. art. V, § 8. We are aware of Williams's 2001 Nobel Peace
Prize nomination for his laudable efforts opposing gang violence
from his prison cell, notably his line of children's books,
subtitled "Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence," and his
creation of the Internet Project for Street Peace. See generally
Tookie's Corner, at http://www.tookie.com (last modified Feb. 28,
Although Williams's good works and accomplishments since
incarceration may make him a worthy candidate for the exercise of
gubernatorial discretion, they are not matters that we in the
federal judiciary are at liberty to take into consideration in our
review of Williams's habeas corpus petition. We affirm the district
court's judgment denying Williams's habeas corpus petition and
vacate the district court's order denying Williams's Rule 60(b)
motion. AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART.