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Text of the Governor's statement denying Tookie clemency: Your analysis of its logic?

by Arnold "Teminator" Schwarzenegger
Below is the text of Governor Arnold ("Teminator") Schwarzenegger's statement denying Tookie Williams clemency. What's your analysis of its logic?

Posted on Mon, Dec. 12, 2005

Gov. Schwarzenegger's clemency decision statement


Stanley Williams has been convicted of brutally murdering four people during two separate armed robberies in February and March 1979. A California jury sentenced him to death, and he is scheduled for execution on December 13, 2005.

During the early morning hours of February 28, 1979, Williams and three others went on a robbery spree. Around 4 a.m., they entered a 7-Eleven store where Albert Owens was working by himself. Here, Williams, armed with his pumpaction shotgun, ordered Owens to a backroom and shot him twice in the back while he lay face down on the floor. Williams and his accomplices made off with about $120 from the store's cash register. After leaving the 7-Eleven store, Williams told the others that he killed Albert Owens because he did not want any witnesses. Later that morning, Williams recounted shooting Albert Owens, saying "You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him." Williams then made a growling noise and laughed for five to six minutes.

On March 11, 1979, less than two weeks later, Williams, again armed with his shotgun, robbed a family-operated motel and shot and killed three members of the family: (1) the father, Yen-I Yang, who was shot once in the torso and once in the arm while he was laying on a sofa; (2) the mother, Tsai-Shai Lin, who was shot once in the abdomen and once in the back; and (3) the daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, who was shot once in her face. For these murders, Williams made away with approximately $100 in cash. Williams also told others about the details of these murders and referred to the victims as "Buddha-heads."

Now, his appeals exhausted, Williams seeks mercy in the form of a petition for clemency. He claims that he deserves clemency because he has undergone a personal transformation and is redeemed, and because there were problems with his trial that undermine the fairness of the jury's verdict.

Williams' case has been thoroughly reviewed in the 24 years since his convictions and death sentence. In addition to his direct appeal to the California Supreme Court, Williams has filed five state habeas corpus petitions, each of which has been rejected. The federal courts have also reviewed his convictions and death sentence. Williams filed a federal habeas corpus petition, and the U.S. District Court denied it. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed this decision.

In all, Williams' case has been the subject of at least eight substantive judicial opinions.

The claim that Williams received an unfair trial was the subject of this extensive litigation in the state and federal courts. The courts considered the sufficiency of his counsel, the strategic nature of counsel's decisions during the penalty phase of Williams' trial, the adequacy and reliability of testimony from informants, whether Williams was prejudiced by security measures employed during his trial, whether he was competent to stand trial, whether the prosecutor impermissibly challenged potential jurors on the basis of race, and whether his jury was improperly influenced by Williams' threats made against them. There is no need to rehash or second guess the myriad findings of the courts over 24 years of litigation.

The possible irregularities in Williams' trial have been thoroughly and carefully reviewed by the courts, and there is no reason to disturb the judicial decisions that uphold the jury's decisions that he is guilty of these four murders and should pay with his life.

The basis of Williams' clemency request is not innocence. Rather, the basis of the request is the "personal redemption Stanley Williams has experienced and the positive impact of the message he sends." But Williams' claim of innocence remains a key factor to evaluating his claim of personal redemption. It is impossible to separate Williams' claim of innocence from his claim of redemption.

Cumulatively, the evidence demonstrating Williams is guilty of these murders is strong and compelling. It includes: (1) eyewitness testimony of Alfred Coward, who was one of Williams' accomplices in the 7-Eleven shooting; (2) ballistics evidence proving that the shotgun casing found at the scene of the motel murders was fired from Williams' shotgun; (3) testimony from Samuel Coleman that Williams confessed that he had robbed and killed some people on Vermont Street (where the motel was located); (4) testimony from James and Esther Garrett that Williams admitted to them that he committed both sets of murders; and (5) testimony from jailhouse informant George Oglesby that Williams confessed to the motel murders and conspired with Oglesby to escape from county jail. The trial evidence is bolstered by information from Tony Sims, who has admitted to being an accomplice in the 7-Eleven murder. Sims did not testify against Williams at trial, but he was later convicted of murder for his role in Albert Owens' death. During his trial and subsequent parole hearings, Sims has repeatedly stated under oath that Williams was the shooter.

Based on the cumulative weight of the evidence, there is no reason to second guess the jury's decision of guilt or raise significant doubts or serious reservations about Williams' convictions and death sentence. He murdered Albert Owens and Yen-I Yang, Yee-Chen Lin and Tsai-Shai Lin in cold blood in two separate incidents that were just weeks apart.

But Williams claims that he is particularly deserving of clemency because he has reformed and been redeemed for his violent past. Williams' claim of redemption triggers an inquiry into his atonement for all his transgressions. Williams protests that he has no reason to apologize for these murders because he did not commit them. But he is guilty and a close look at Williams' post-arrest and postconviction conduct tells a story that is different from redemption.

After Williams was arrested for these crimes, and while he was awaiting trial, he conspired to escape from custody by blowing up a jail transportation bus and killing the deputies guarding the bus. There are detailed escape plans in Williams' own handwriting. Williams never executed this plan, but his co-conspirator implicated Williams in the scheme. The fact that Williams conspired to murder several others to effectuate his escape from jail while awaiting his murder trial is consistent with guilt, not innocence. And the timing of the motel murders--less than two weeks after the murder of Albert Owens--shows a callous disregard for human life.

Williams has written books that instruct readers to avoid the gang lifestyle and to stay out of prison. In 1996, a Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence children's book series was published. In 1998, "Life in Prison" was published. In 2004, Williams published a memoir entitled "Blue Rage, Black Redemption." He has also recently (since 1995) tried to preach a message of gang avoidance and peacemaking, including a protocol for street peace to be used by opposing gangs.

It is hard to assess the effect of such efforts in concrete terms, but the continued pervasiveness of gang violence leads one to question the efficacy of Williams' message. Williams co-founded the Crips, a notorious street gang that has contributed and continues to contribute to predatory and exploitative violence.

The dedication of Williams' book "Life in Prison" casts significant doubt on his personal redemption. This book was published in 1998, several years after Williams' claimed redemptive experience. Specifically, the book is dedicated to "Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Ramona Africa, John Africa, Leonard Peltier, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid, George Jackson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the countless other men, women, and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars." The mix of individuals on this list is curious. Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement.

But the inclusion of George Jackson on this list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems.

There is also little mention or atonement in his writings and his plea for clemency of the countless murders committed by the Crips following the lifestyle Williams once espoused. The senseless killing that has ruined many families, particularly in African-American communities, in the name of the Crips and gang warfare is a tragedy of our modern culture. One would expect more explicit and direct reference to this byproduct of his former lifestyle in Williams' writings and apology for this tragedy, but it exists only through innuendo and inference.

Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise? Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not and should not apologize or otherwise atone for the murders of the four victims in this case. Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption. In this case, the one thing that would be the clearest indication of complete remorse and full redemption is the one thing Williams will not do.

Clemency decisions are always difficult, and this one is no exception. After reviewing and weighing the showing Williams has made in support of his clemency request, there is nothing that compels me to nullify the jury's decision of guilt and sentence and the many court decisions during the last 24 years upholding the jury's decision with a grant of clemency.

Therefore, based on the totality of circumstances in this case, Williams' request for clemency is denied.

DATED: December 12, 2005


Governor of the State of California


by @hnold
"The mix of individuals on this list is curious. Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement."

You know, the kind of stuff you see in any Schwartzenegger movie.
by State Murder Is Reprehensible
Sorry I can't make it to the San Quentin protests, but I'll be burning 13 U.S. flags just after midnight, along with my Terminator trilogy.
by Problem Child
This terminator guy has no heart and he derserves to be on the death penalty for commiting murder
by A Scotsman
Been following this case and many others including that of my fellow Scot Kenny Richey who is on Ohios Death Row. I can only shake my head in despair at the example of Democracy my countrys 'ally' shows to the world once again. Capital Punishment is outlawed in Europe, and so it should be. Two wrongs do not make a right. God rest your soul Stanley Williams.
by Mr. untitled
I don't know whether or not Tookie was innocent or unjustly tried, but I just don't support Captial punishment. For the argument of " what if it was your family" don't asked this imperfect soul you because you will only recieve an imperfect answer. Just remember Jesus said "No!"
by dont know
i think its wrong killing him u should of give him a second chance tookie proved tht e wanted to change his life around but u never give him tht second chance
by Dr Z
I dont think it wrong at all to kill Stanley Williams. All the evidence points towards his guilt...'Godspeed Tookie?' I dont think so! He's obviously guilty... Thank God It's past 13th December!
by Dan Purnell
Ok, let's do something different and think critically and carefully about the death penalty; just for once let's try it. First of all, this has to be said: in every way, the death penalty is just plain wrong. Morally, the government and the justice system should not be in the business of dealing out revenge. Our justice system is built on protecting the innocent first and punishing the guilty second. Legally and economically, death sentences are a waste of time and money. Years and years of effort and taxpapers money wasted on the appeals process could go instead to keeping people out of prison. Socially, one needs only common sense and logic to see that it is no deterrant to crime. The majority of people who get the death sentence are poor and cannot afford adequate legal counseling. More than likely the majority of these people have grown up in areas of the country where violence and death are relatively common. How then can the threat of death scare anyone straight? Finally, philosophically, death is death, and by nature it is a violent act. The circumstances and emotions surrounding each death make them all morally and emotionally unique, but the outcome is the same, and in the justice system we try to be objective. The invdividual has ceased to live based on the actions of another. No one, not even the government, should have the power to perform that action within the rational, analytical realm of law. Besides, it is a clear error in thinking to believe we can help alleviate the problem of violence by commiting an act of violence.
Now, as for stanley williams: although I am firmly opposed to the death penalty for anyone, hypothetically speaking, if there were a crime that would warrent the death penalty, this is it. Tookie did not seem to understand that with all violent crime, there are not one but two crucial aspects: Redemption and Closure. Writing books and speaking out against violence may have redeemed him personally and socially, but what became of closure for those who knew the victims? He is directly or indirectly responsible for ruining many lives and creating much hatred, anger and negative emotion. When will he address that with positive emotions, such as humility, compassion, guilt, etc. And how does it make family and friends of victims feel when they see this man idolized as a hero, as they watch him become famous for getting caught and convicted of murder? Had he gotten off, would he have turned over a new leaf or would he still be commiting crimes? I dont know.
He claimed his innocence was why he was refusing an apology. Not only is his innocence hard to believe, but even if it is true, he is still indirectly responsible for many more murders, and there was no apology for any of those either. I have no hatred for this man, but given the circumstances, I cannot shed any tears for his death.
Yet, should Schwarzenegger have denied clemency? Absolutely not, although i understand why he did. Even though I do not care for the man, still, given the high-profile nature of the situation, if I'm governor, I do everything in my power to keep him alive. Not because he is a good man and deserves it, but in order to make a general statement against the death penalty itself. If we are ever to evolve beyond a society where the outdated, medievel notion of "eye for an eye" holds water, it must begin with bold, controversial action. Let those in power for lead the way, and just once, let them use their power for the good of humanity.
by KK
well actually even if there was evidence no one really knows for sure if he killed someone but him so yea but he was a VERY respected person even if it was for the wrong reasons and i do think that he would have been alot more help alive than dead even if he spent the rest of his life in jail he could have saved ALOT of lives of children in risk...alot of my friends are either crips, bloods, or used to be one and i worry about them all the time and i think now that hes dead its going to get worse becuse there is ALWAYS someone who wants to be bigger and badder than the last and if that happens...uh oh
by SM (sheanmye26 [at]
Well killing Tookie did nothing I think he should have lived to deal with the shootings I think by killing him it did nothing but enable him to see what he did and making him live with what he did would of been harder to deal with.
How can the sytem trow you under the jail for killing but it is o.k for them to kill you or me we never really learn our lesson it makes killing o.k and once we are gone everyting we have done is gone forever and only God can judge you not the law, system, court, deputies no one and to be honest I believe he did not do it but pride is why he never spoke out he died a strong black man and it is hard to push your pride asside and let what we calll friends down but he died with dignity and pride and he will be missed I have a lot of respect for Tookie and I send my sympathy to his familly may God keep you and you be blessed
and the person whom really did the shotting is running free. The system is **** UP
by big bos
i hope the idiot is happy by klliing the only one who could have stop this madness. hey arnold good luck on stopping the crips since you killed one of them, i thank you for that.
by Lee
I just finished watching the movie 'Redemption' and when I looked through several sites to learn more information I was very shocked that this idiot governor Arnold did what he did. I will from now on hate him for it. I was really hoping to one day get Tookie to read a letter from me and I had questions for him about a book I really want to finish that will help thousands of people out there. I am a white woman and I have a son and I thought to myself if Tookie had killed my son, would I or could I forgive him even after he has done all the wonderful things he has done and I sincerely could have forgiven him. My son means more to me than anything on this God forsaken earth. I am sitting here in the dark just before 1 a.m. and thinking back on every single day of my life all I wanted is to never wake up and hate the world for letting me wake up each day and I am not in prison nor on death row. I guess after I learned more about Tookie, I really wished that one day he could have thrown an encouraging word my way since I am all alone with no family or real friends. Pathetic? Maybe.... Long live Tookie in the hearts and minds of children and all the men and women who were privledged enough to see that movie 'Redemption' that touched my broken heart. I hate you governor.......I hope your death is worse than Tookies...
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