California Supreme Court Rejects Tookie Williams' Appeal

Former gang leader will be executed early Tuesday unless Schwarzenegger grants clemency.

The fate of ex-Crips gang leader Stanley "Tookie" Williams now lies in the hands of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. On Sunday, the California Supreme Court rejected a last-minute legal effort to issue a stay blocking the convicted killer's execution, which is scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday. Schwarzenegger has until midnight Monday (December 12) to decide whether he will spare Williams' life.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the six justices unanimously denied Williams' lawyer's request for a stay, saying that the had reviewed all nine claims made by the former gang leader and denied each one on its individual merits, even though they felt some were almost identical.

Williams' attorney Verna Wefald has prepared a petition asking the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to review the case today and plans to go to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, according to the Times.

Williams, who has claimed to be a co-founder of the Los Angeles-bred Crips gang, has become an anti-gang crusader, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and author of children's books since entering prison more than two decades ago after being convicted of four murders; he denies committing the crimes (see "Schwarzenegger Meets With Tookie Williams' Lawyers"). Williams' case has drawn support from Jamie Foxx, who portrayed the former gang leader in a TV movie, and Snoop Dogg (see "Snoop Tries To Get Crips Co-Founder Off Real Death Row").

Supporters and lawyers have mounted this clemency campaign based on what they point to as evidence that Williams has redeemed himself for his violent gang past by his anti-gang work while on death row. Williams' lawyers have also claimed that the case against their client was faulty.

But the state Supreme Court rejected several claims by Williams' defense in denying the stay, including one assertion that a witness against Williams had an undisclosed history of violent crimes and that a key jailhouse informant had manipulated Williams while he was forcibly drugged by authorities, the Times reported.

With the deadline fast approaching, Williams' supporters said Sunday that they had found new evidence that might help exonerate him, which they had passed on to Schwarzenegger. The evidence reportedly came from a former Los Angeles county jail inmate who says he can back up Williams' allegation that he was framed by police working with a jailhouse informant. The inmate reportedly said he saw officers deliver police reports about Williams' case to George Oglesby, an inmate who later testified against the gang leader. The informant said he didn't come forward until now because he didn't know until last week that Oglesby had testified in Williams' trial.

If Schwarzenegger grants clemency, Williams' death sentence would be commuted to life in prison without parole.