Terrence Williams is scheduled to become the first person executed in the Keystone State in 13 years. He and a friend were convicted of luring their victim, Amos Norwood, into a cemetery and beating him to death with a tire iron before setting Norwood's body on fire.
The crime took place in 1984, when Williams was 18.
The Board of Pardons voted 3-2 to recommend Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett commute Williams' sentence to life in prison without parole, but a unanimous voted is required for the recommendation to be forwarded to the governor's office, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Tuesday.
Lawyers are pursuing an appeal of the conviction, citing what they say is new evidence that helps explain Williams' actions. Federal public defenders said their client was the victim of several rapes as a child and teen -- and that Norwood was one of Williams' attackers.
That appeal, perhaps Williams' last chance at avoiding a death sentence, is scheduled to be heard Thursday in Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court, the newspaper said.