Has Justice Been Served?
I have served 30 plus years for my part in a horrible tragedy that led to the death of a man that did not deserve to die. At that time I was an 18 year old college freshman attending Cheney State University. Realizing the bad choice that I had made, I accepted responsibility and cooperated with authorities without the advice of an attorney. During that time, I was threatened by investigators and accused of committing other crimes that I had nothing to do with. They threatened to charge me with an unsolved murder and that they would charge me with first degree murder and seek the death penalty. Shaken and scared, I made self incriminating statements and I was arrested.
Not being familiar with the criminal justice system, my next door neighbor, attorney Ken Dixon, agreed to help me out and became my defense attorney. He, at that time, had very little experience with this type of criminal defense and he tried to negotiate with the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney – Andrea Foulkes. Unaware of her unethical behavior and her manipulative tactics, my attorney negotiated for me to accept a 10-15 year sentence in exchange for my full cooperation and testimony. My attorney did not advise me that pleading guilty to murder in the second degree would impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole. But instead, he and I relied upon the promise of the ADA, Andrea Foulkes, that she would write a letter to the parole board acknowledging my cooperation and that the DA’s office would not be opposed to my being paroled or to commuting my sentence.
The letter was written by Mrs. Foulkes and I was advised not to appeal my guilty plea but rather be productive with my time and demonstrate my rehabilitation to support my being paroled or my sentence being commuted in 10-15 years. During this time, I focused on continuing my education (Associates Degree from Reading Area Community College ‘93) and helping others become literate and obtaining their GED. In addition, I focused on developing the skills necessary to be gainfully employed upon my release (see resume).
When I realized that my guilty plea was based on the inaccurate advice of my attorney and that he was manipulated by the ADA Mrs. Foulkes, I immediately filed a petition seeking to withdraw my plea agreement and demanded a retrial. The petition was denied do to procedural rules “time-bared” which meant that I should have filed the petition earlier. Since that time, I have made several additional attempts to seek relief of my sentence but they have all been denied.
In January of 2012, I was approached by the attorneys representing Terrance Williams. They asked me to share with them what happened the night of the murder. I explained that Terry knew Amos Norwood and that they were in a homosexual relationship. And that Terry snapped and started beating him uncontrollably. I told this to the police and the DA when I was arrested, but they wanted me to agree to their version of the story. And 30 years ago Terry, suppressing his sexual abuse, insisted that he was not there and had nothing to do with the murder. They took an affidavit from me and I agreed to share the true story of what happened that day and it helped to save Terry from his date of execution October 3rd, 2012.
The judge in his case, the honorable M. Teresa Sarmina found that former Assistant District Attorney, Andrea Foulkes, suppressed evidence, sanitized witness statements and lied about a secret deal she struck. The judge accused Mrs. Foulkes of “gamesmanship”. The judge deemed Foulkes’ testimony about her work in the case not credible. Foulkes herself admitted she suspected another motive for the killing of Amos Norwood, but neither she nor police pursued it much.
New evidence supplied by me, described as “credible” by Judge Sarmina led to the granting of a hearing and to a stay of execution for Terry Williams. Original police files and interview notes authored by Mrs. Foulkes and by police corroborated my assertions that the killing of Amos Norwood was based on Williams being sexually abused, and not robbery as depicted by the prosecution and police. She also noted that Mrs. Foulkes violated her ethical duties. And the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court affirmed and validated the findings against Mrs. Foulkes and the police, agreeing that the actions taken by them will not be tolerated.
After 30 years I feel that the truth has finally begun to come out regarding my case. But I need your help and support with getting my story out to the public and I need your support and encouragement to successfully petition the state of Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf, and the District Attorney’s office for relief from my sentence of life without parole. In doing so, I ask you to consider my actions and consider my record.
After you carefully consider the facts in my case and what I have done with the 30 plus years of confinement, I ask, has justice been served? And if you believe that I have accepted responsibility for my actions, and have consistently demonstrated my rehabilitation during my incarceration, then I welcome your letters of support, your words of encouragement, and I urge you to please sign my petition.