published: 1 October 2015
The Philadelphia death-row inmate who has become an unlikely poster child in the state’s ongoing fight over the morality of capital punishment has received one more chance to potentially fend off his execution, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That court agreed Thursday to scrutinize the role played in the case by a major figure in the recent history of Pennsylvania courts and Philadelphia politics: Ronald D. Castille.
The high court announced it would take up the appeal by Terrance Williams, convicted in the 1984 beating death of a Germantown church deacon, who argues that Pennsylvania’s former chief justice should not have taken part in a decision to uphold his punishment last year.
Williams’ lawyers say Castille, who retired as the top judge on Pennsylvania’s high court in 2014, should have recused himself when the case came before the state Supreme Court because Castille was Philadelphia’s district attorney when Williams was condemned to die.