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Attorney for Death Row inmate Williams challenges evidence
by repost
Saturday Nov 12th, 2005 11:23 AM
An attorney for Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the condemned former leader of the Crips street gang, has challenged evidence presented at his 1981 murder trial in hopes of staving off a December execution.
Posted on Fri, Nov. 11, 2005



Attorney for Death Row inmate Williams challenges evidence

By Karl Fischer

CONTRA COSTA TIMES

An attorney for Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the condemned former leader of the Crips street gang, has challenged evidence presented at his 1981 murder trial in hopes of staving off a December execution.

The 82-page brief filed with the California Supreme Court attacks forensic firearms analysis presented by the prosecution in the trial as "junk science" and suggests faulty evidence led to Williams' convictions for killing three people during a Los Angeles motel robbery in 1979.

It asks the state's high court to reopen Williams' criminal cases and to allow for re-examination of specific pieces of evidence, particularly the ballistic evidence presented at trial for the shotgun killings of Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang and Ye Chen Lin.

"The shotgun evidence isn't reliable," Pasadena attorney Verna Wefald told the Associated Press on Friday. "There isn't any question about this."

The brief also questions the credibility of a witness who testified that Williams killed Whittier convenience store clerk Albert Owens. The witness is now in a Canadian prison for a murder conviction.

Williams, 51, received the death sentence for his four murder convictions and now lives on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison. He went on to become a Nobel-nominated children's author behind bars and iconic figure for the anti-death penalty movement.

But his previous appeals, in which he claimed racial bias during jury selection and that a prosecutor made racially tinged comments during arguments, were exhausted last month when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case. A Los Angeles judge then set a Dec. 13 execution date.

"What Williams is receiving now is aggressive legal representation, which is something he is entitled to. But what he is not entitled to is relief without justification," said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

The state Supreme Court gave Lockyer until Thursday to submit a response.

"(Williams) had 25 years to litigate all of these claims, and he's been to every state and federal court this country has to offer. They've all rejected him," Barankin said.

This week other attorneys working for Williams submitted a clemency petition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has agreed to consider the petition and a response from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Attorney Jonathan Harris submitted the clemency bid with copies of e-mails sent to Williams by former gang members, police officers and others moved by his books and speeches.

Williams was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize and four times for the Nobel Prize for literature for his children's books and international peace efforts to curtail gang violence.

As a teenager in the 1970s he helped form the Crips, one of the most prolific and infamous Los Angeles street gangs.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Reach Karl Fischer at 510-262-2728 or kfischer [at] cctimes.com.

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