Terrance Williams, of Philadelphia, was convicted of beating and burning Amos Norwood, 56, in 1984. His lawyers urged Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to commute the sentence to life without parole, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Tuesday.
Williams' attorney said the original jury that sentenced his client to death would not have done so had it known the full circumstances surrounding the killing. Williams, 18 at the time of the killing, and Norwood, 56, were in a years-long abusive sexual relationship that was the motive, Williams' lawyer Billy Nolas said.
The jury in the original trial was under the impression Williams and codefendant Marc Draper had never met Norwood before the day they killed him. Robbery was given as the original motive.
Williams' codefendant, Marc Draper, now 46, testified that he told prosecutors and detectives why the pair had killed Norwood, but that he was coerced to lie about it, the Daily News reported.
As evidence, attorneys pointed to hand-written notes from Andrea Foulkes, the assistant district attorney who first prosecuted the case, the (Harrisburg, Pa.) Patriot News reported. The notes -- unearthed last week from the original case files -- seem to suggest Foulkes knew of the sexual relationship between the men, and of accusations Norwood had sexual contact with other young men at the church where he was a youth minister.
"It was known to her from me that this whole situation -- Amos Norwood and Terry Williams -- it was a relationship, a sexual, homosexual relationship," Draper said under questioning by Nolas.
Draper said he lied because detectives threatened to charge him with another unrelated killing if he didn't testify against Williams.
Prosecutors sought to poke holes in Draper's testimony, pointing to past fraud arrests and questioning why, after so many years, he's finally coming forward with the new allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
Sarmina ordered a further review of the new evidence found in the case files before issuing her ruling Wednesday.