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Frank Williams, Jr. - Arkansas
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Thread: Frank Williams, Jr. - Arkansas

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    Frank Williams, Jr. - Arkansas




    Facts of the Crime:

    Convicted and sentenced to death in the fatal shooting farmer Clyde Spence of Bradley during a 1992 robbery. Williams had been fired earlier from a prison work-release job at Spence's farm. On October 7, 1992, Spence fired Williams from his job after he broke a tractor. Just before midnight, Williams returned and shot Spence with a .25-caliber pistol. Police later arrested Williams and found the pistol in his pocket.

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    June 20, 2008

    Ark. governor sets execution date for inmate

    LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Gov. Mike Beebe has set a September execution date for an Arkansas death-row inmate, the first since a failed U.S. Supreme Court challenge to lethal injection.

    Beebe set a Sept. 9 execution date on Friday for convicted killer Frank Williams Jr., 41. Williams received a death sentence after being convicted of fatally shooting farmer Clyde Spence of Bradley during a 1992 robbery. Williams had been fired earlier from a prison work-release job at Spence's farm.

    Arkansas has executed 27 death-row inmates since the Supreme Court allowed states to resume executions in 1976. The state's last execution took place in 2005, when officials executed condemned killer Eric Nance.

    Source: http://www.wreg.com/Global/story.asp?S=8532576

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    July 8, 2008

    LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas death-row inmate Frank Williams Jr. should be spared from execution because of mental disabilities and issues surrounding his 1992 murder conviction, his lawyers argue in a new clemency request.

    In a filing to the state's Parole Board, federal public defenders describe Williams as a slow learner whose low IQ caused classmates, friends and even his family to mock him as he grew up poor in southwestern Arkansas. Lawyers also question a previous assault conviction that allowed prosecutors to seek the death penalty against him for the killing of Bradley farmer Clyde Spence, as well as the prosecutors' motives.

    "It is for these reasons that Mr. Williams now stands before this board and asks it to do what the courts have refused to do," the request reads. "Look at the compelling evidence of his disability, and then commute his sentence of death in order to prevent the terrible unfairness and injustice of executing a mentally retarded man because of bad luck and the failings of his attorneys."

    The 49-page clemency request, dated July 1, does not challenge Williams' guilt for Spence's murder.

    Williams, 41, faces a Sept. 9 execution date set by Gov. Mike Beebe. If it is carried out, Williams would be the first inmate put to death in Arkansas since 2005 and a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year upholding lethal injection.

    The state Parole Board will hold hearings Aug. 4 on Williams' request.

    The clemency request claims California psychologist Ricardo Weinstein, who has worked as a defense expert in other death-penalty cases, diagnosed Williams as having mental disabilities after reviewing records and interviewing Williams' family. The request says another psychologist reviewed Weinstein's work and agreed with it.

    Williams' lawyers claim he always struggled in classes and was held back three times before dropping out as a sophomore in high school. He worked on farms, became familiar with driving that equipment, but was apprehensive behind the wheel of a car anywhere outside of country roads, his lawyers said.

    Williams was previously convicted of threatening a sheriff's deputy with a butcher knife - a charge that helped prosecutors seek the death penalty against him. In their clemency request, Williams' lawyers claim he never pointed the weapon at the deputy and had no intention to injure or kill him. Because of that, lawyers said he should have never been charged.

    Lawyers said Williams at one time moved into an old trailer on Spence's property, where he worked as a farmhand. Spence also helped get Williams out of prison and into a work-release program after his assault conviction.

    On Oct. 7, 1992, Spence fired Williams from his job after he broke a tractor. Just before midnight, Williams returned and shot Spence with a .25-caliber pistol. Police later arrested Williams and found the pistol in his pocket.

    Gabe Holmstrom, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said officials have not seen Williams' clemency application and had no comment.

    In their clemency request, Williams' lawyers also note that of five current death-penalty inmates from that judicial district, all were black men convicted of killing white victims. White defendants, including a man who doused three people in gasoline and set them on fire over $20, did not receive the death penalty, lawyers said.

    "That evidence shows a strong possibility that if Mr. Williams were white or the victim had been black, the death penalty would not have been sought," his lawyers wrote.

    Of the 39 men on Arkansas' death row, 24 are black. Blacks make up only 15 percent of the state's 2.8 million residents.

    http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/20...rkexecwill.txt

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    July 10, 2008

    LITTLE ROCK - The state Parole Board on Wednesday scheduled an August hearing to consider the executive clemency request of a death-row inmate who is scheduled to be executed in September.

    Lawyers for inmate Frank Williams Jr. requested the hearing earlier this month, arguing their client's life should be spared for a variety of reasons, including a low intelligence quotient.

    The Parole Board scheduled the clemency hearing for 10 a.m. on Aug. 4 at the state Department of Correction's Varner Supermax Unit located at Varner in southeast Arkansas.

    Williams' family and other supporters will be allowed to speak at the hearing on the merits of the condemned killer's clemency application. The victim's family and friends will be allowed to speak against the request at a meeting that afternoon in Little Rock.

    "Following the hearings, the Parole Board will provide a nonbinding recommendation to the governor who has the authority to grant or deny the clemency request," the board said in a release.

    Gov. Mike Beebe set a Sept. 9 execution date for Williams, sentenced to death for the 1992 murder of Bradley farmer Clyde Spence.

    The execution date was the first the governor has set since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April against a legal challenge to the use of lethal injection to put an inmate to death.

    The governor set three execution dates last year but stays were issued in federal court pending a high court ruling in a Kentucky case.

    Williams' lawyers said in their request for a clemency hearing that Williams has a low IQ and was often teased while growing up poor in southwest Arkansas. They also raised questions about a previous assault conviction that allowed prosecutors to seek the death penalty against Williams after his arrest in Spence's killing.

    Spence was gunned down during a robbery. Williams was on a work-release program at the time and had been fired from his job at Spence's farm just before the shooting.

    http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/20...xecutewill.txt

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    July 18, 2008

    Lawyers: Ark. execution method 'dangerous'

    Lawyers for 4 Arkansas death-row inmates say "botched" executions show that the state's lethal injection method remains dangerous and inadequate.

    In a filing to U.S. District Court, federal public defender Julie Brain cites several executions when witnesses either heard condemned inmates groan or medical teams failed to properly start an intravenous line as proof of the method's danger. Because of these concerns, the filing urges a judge to allow the lawsuit by Don William Davis, Jack Harold Jones Jr., Terrick Nooner and Frank Williams Jr. to continue.

    Only Williams now has an execution date, scheduled for September 9.

    Dina Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, dimissed the lawyers' claims, saying the the condemned feel nothing "beyond the stick of the needle."

    (source: Associated Press)

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    August 3, 2008

    LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas death-row inmate Frank Williams Jr. will appear today before the state Parole board, asking for his life as an execution date looms.

    If he'd been convicted in another Southern state, however, he might already be dead.

    Arkansas, which sought execution dates even as a challenge to lethal injection came before the U.S. Supreme Court, now moves slowly toward carrying out its first lethal injection since 2005. Since the court's April decision upholding the method, Georgia became the first in the nation to hold an execution and has carried out three others since. Mississippi carried out the second and has executed one other inmate. Texas has executed four, while Florida has carried out one.

    Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee have not held executions since the decision.

    Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, said the delay in Arkansas only represents the usual time it takes for executions to move through the system. In Arkansas, the attorney general sends a letter to the governor, informing the state's chief executive when an inmate has no pending appeals. Beebe then reads through court transcripts from the inmate's original trial before setting an execution date, DeCample said.

    "I think you'd find with that part of the process, Mr. Williams' case has proceeded in pretty much the standard length of time for that," he said. "I don't think on our part there's been any specific decided thought we'd put in to the rate we proceeded. We've just gone back to our normal processes."

    Beebe has received letters from those opposing executions in the state, including one most recently from a group asking him to spare Williams' life because defense experts say he has mental disabilities. Williams' lawyers claim he always struggled in classes and was held back three times before dropping out as a sophomore in high school.

    Since taking office in 2006, Beebe has set execution dates for three inmates on Arkansas' 39-man death row -- Don William Davis, Jack Harold Jones and Terrick Nooner. Federal judges stayed those executions as the Supreme Court weighed a challenge on lethal injection by two Kentucky death-row inmates.

    In the time since a decision on the Kentucky case, the three men have again appealed to federal judges, asking them to reconsider their claim that the state's lethal injection procedures remain dangerous and inadequate. Nooner also has another federal stay in place over new claims by the federal public defenders representing him.

    In May, the state Department of Correction issued an updated lethal-injection procedure. The procedure now requires executioners to check condemned inmates for fluttering eyelids and shake them to assure they are unconscious before delivering the final two drugs to carry out the death penalty.

    The rule also adds requirements that the three drugs used in Arkansas executions be mixed in accordance with the manufacturers' specifications and that executioners have at least two years of medical experience.

    Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said the changes would "exceed all constitutional safeguards" and that slow, deliberate decisions needed to be made.

    "We are talking about the ultimate deprivation of a human being's liberty, which is to be executed by the state," McDaniel told reporters in June.

    The attorney general's office identified Williams as the first inmate in line for execution about two weeks after the Supreme Court decision. Williams, 42, was convicted of the 1992 shooting death of Clyde Spence, who fired Williams from a job on his farm after he broke a tractor. Williams returned and shot Spence with a .25-caliber pistol. Police later arrested Williams and found the pistol in his pocket.

    In the clemency request before the board, Williams' lawyers do not challenge his guilt in the killing. Instead, they cite a state law and 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision barring the execution of those determined to be mentally retarded.

    http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/20...rexecution.txt

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    August 4, 2008

    VARNER, Ark. (AP) - Death-row inmate Frank Williams Junior told a parole board today that the world "just went blank" before he shot and killed a farmer at Bradley in 1992. Williams is scheduled to be executed September 9 for killing Clyde Spence. An effort is under way to spare his life.

    In a hearing today at Varner, Williams told Parole Board members that he had been drinking and smoking marijuana with relatives before Spence was shot. He said he was mad at Spence for not paying him for work he had done.

    The Parole Board is to hold a victim's hearing later today in Little Rock.

    Susie Grissom, a juror at Williams' trial, said she had heard rumors of violence if Williams wasn't convicted and that she voted for the death penalty so "there would be peace."

    Grissom declined to talk to reporters after the hearing regarding her testimony.

    http://www.myeyewitnessnews.com/news...34016dd&rss=59

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    August 4, 2008

    The state parole board must decide whether to uphold the death penalty for a man that killed his boss 16 years ago. Frank Williams Jr. is the first death row inmate set for execution in three years. But his lawyers are claiming he can't be executed because he's mentally disabled.

    The family of Clyde Spence says they've been living with his murder for the last 16 years. And it's time for his killer, Frank Williams Jr., to die next month.

    At a hearing at the Varner unit Monday morning, the federal public defenders office tried to commute his sentence to life because of mental disabilities. And there was a chance for Williams to talk about the night he killed Clyde Spence, who employed Williams as a farmhand in Bradley and a man Williams had known since childhood.

    "He didn't pay me my wages. And I had it in my head that I was going to get it one way or another," Williams said.

    And that meant showing up at Clyde Spence's home after he'd been fired. "I went back to talk to him about my job and the next thing I know it just went blank," Williams said.

    The clemency board heard from a juror who convicted Williams in his trial 15 years ago. She said she always wanted him to have a life sentence but was outvoted by the other jurors back then. She said today hopefully they will hear her call to move his sentence to life.

    "Mr. Spence thought Frank Williams Jr., was going to apologize to him because he laid his gun aside and he opened the door. And what did he face? An armed individual that shot him and killed him," said Lafayette county prosecutor Brent Haltom.

    Haltom urged the parole board to deny Williams’ clemency. So did Clyde Spence's son, David. "Me, my family, my kids, we're the ones serving a life sentence right now. And anybody that knew him, we're all serving a life sentence," David Spence said.

    Typically the parole board takes a week or more to come to a decision. It’s a non-binding recommendation to Governor Mike Beebe about whether Frank Williams’ execution should go forward on September 9th.

    Lawyers for Williams also argued that the racial make-up of the jury in his trial was biased. However the state said five of the 12 jurors were African American. His attorneys also argued his trial attorney was unfit to defend a death penalty case.

    http://www.fox16.com/news/local/stor...595fe9&rss=315

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    August 8, 2008

    LITTLE ROCK - Gov. Mike Beebe said Thursday he's not sure when he will decide whether to grant condemned killer Frank Williams Jr.'s executive clemency request or allow Williams' scheduled Sept. 9 execution to proceed.

    The state Parole Board voted 4-3 Tuesday to recommend that the governor commute Williams' death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the 1992 shooting death of Bradley farmer Clyde Spence.

    Beebe said Thursday his decision would be difficult, one that he will make on his own.

    "No matter how heinous the crime, (allowing an execution) is a solemn responsibility," he said.

    Beebe said he had read the transcript of Williams' 1993 trial in Lafayette County Circuit Court. He said he would consider the Parole Board's recommendation, along with a variety of other factors, including whether Williams is retarded.

    "While I listen and take into consideration what they have to say, their vote, in and unto itself," will not determine the decision, the governor said.

    Williams was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in Spence's Oct. 17, 1992, slaying. The victim was gunned down when he answered a late-night knock at his front door.

    Williams had worked on Spence's farm on a prison work-release program but had been fired for damaging a tractor before the shooting.

    During separate clemency hearings this week, anti-death penalty advocates and Williams urged the Parole Board to recommend the clemency, while family and friends of Spence asked the board to deny the request.

    Two of Spence's sons told the board they did not think Williams is retarded and that he intentionally murdered the one man who was trying to him.

    Prosecutor Brent Haltom told the board that Williams, at the request of his attorney, was tested twice before the original trial and was found to be competent to stand trial. Haltom also said Williams' court-appointed public defender also never raised the issue on appeal.

    California psychologist Ricardo Weinstein testified he has diagnosed Williams as having mental disability after reviewing records and interviewing family members.

    A mentally disabled person, under state law, is someone who has an IQ of 65 or below. Williams scored 75 on an IQ test given by Weinstein, the Parole Board was told.

    A 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibits the execution of anyone determined to be mentally disabled.

    Arkansas has not executed a death-row inmate since 2005.

    Three other execution dates set by the governor were stayed in federal court pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a legal challenge to the use of lethal injection. The high court in April ruled the method of lethal injection used by several states, including Arkansas, was constitutional.

    Williams' execution date was the first Beebe set following the Supreme Court's ruling.

    http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/20...tewilliams.txt

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    August 29, 2008

    Judge's ruling could delay Arkansas inmate's execution

    Next month's execution of an Arkansas man sentenced to die for killing a farmer in 1992 is in question after a circuit judge ruled that the state's new execution procedures should have been subject to public comment before they were implemented.

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox, in a ruling Thursday, barred the Arkansas Department of Correction from using the procedures in its execution of Frank Williams Jr. Williams faces a Sept. 9 execution.

    "The million-dollar question is: What does that do to the September execution date? That is still uncertain," Chief Deputy Attorney General Justin Allen told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The attorney general's office is representing the Correction Department in the state lawsuit by Williams that led to Fox's findings.

    Williams, 42, was convicted of capital murder in the 1992 death of farmer Clyde Spence of Bradley. Williams, who was working on Spence's farm as part of a prison-release program, had been fired earlier that day by Spence for breaking a tractor.

    Earlier this month, the Arkansas Board of Parole recommended that Williams be granted clemency. Gov. Mike Beebe has not yet acted on that recommendation.

    Williams' lawsuit challenged the legality of the state's new execution procedures, which were implemented in May in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

    Earlier this month, a federal judge in Arkansas upheld the constitutionality of Arkansas' lethal injection procedure, which was challenged by Williams and death-row inmates Terrick Nooner, Don Davis and Jack Harold Jones. Williams is the only 1 of the 4 inmates who has an execution date scheduled.

    The federal public defenders office, which represents Williams, has a policy of not commenting on cases.

    Fox ruled that the new protocols are subject to the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act and therefore subject to public scrutiny and input. The Correction Department argues that the execution protocol is exempt from the act.

    "If we had to go through the notification process every time we changed something we do ... we would never be able to conduct business," agency spokeswoman Dina Tyler said.

    Allen said the state would appeal Fox's decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

    "We respectfully disagree with the ruling," Allen said. "We think the law is on our side."

    Allen said Williams' execution would likely be delayed if the state high court doesn't expedite the case.

    (source: Associated Press)

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