Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has refused to spare the life of convicted killer Stanley “Tookie” Williams, who is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.
“After studying the evidence, searching the history, listening to the arguments and wrestling with the profound consequences, I could find no justification for granting clemency,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement, less than 12 hours before the execution. “The facts do not justify overturning the jury’s verdict or the decisions of the courts in this case.”
A federal appeals court on Monday also refused to intervene on Williams’ behalf. On Sunday the California Supreme Court refused a stay of execution for the former gang leader who became an outspoken critic of gang violence.
Williams’s many supporters range from rapper Snoop Dogg to M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell and Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, who portrayed Williams in a 2004 TV movie. These supporters and others appealed directly to the governor Sunday, stating in a letter that they had a new witness who could help prove Williams’s innocence, reports the Associated Press.
“All we need now is time to investigate to make sure this story is real,” said NAACP California President Alice Huffman. “We’re hoping and praying for clemency, but we’re not going to leave any stone unturned.”
Prosecutors and victims’ advocates, however, held that Williams didn’t deserve clemency because he did not own up to his crimes and refused to inform on fellow gang members. Schwarzenegger seemed to agree, saying in a statement, “Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption.”
Williams, 51, was condemned for the slaying of a 7-Eleven clerk during a robbery in February 1979 and the deaths of a couple and their daughter at a South Los Angeles motel the following month.
He denies committing the murders but has apologized for founding the Crips, a gang that prosecutors blamed for thousands of murders in Los Angeles and beyond. In 1996 he released Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence, a series of children’s books denouncing the thug life, then donated all proceeds to antigang efforts. He helped broker a peace treaty between the Crips and Bloods in 2004 and has written two autobiographies that hammer home his message of non-violence.
Williams’s supporters, an outspoken group ranging from community leaders to actors and rappers, have held rallies in his support and argue that executing Williams would send the wrong message.
“Saving Stanley’s life saves lives,” his coauthor Barbara Becnel told PEOPLE recently. “We’ve heard from tens of thousands of gang members who’ve said they were going to kill someone and they read the book or saw (the 2004 TV movie Redemption, starring Jamie Foxx) and they backed away.”
However, the families of Williams’s victims are not swayed. “I believe in redemption, but I don’t believe that Williams understands it,” Lora Owens, stepmother of slain 7-Eleven clerk Albert Owens, told PEOPLE. “To be redeemed means you accept responsibility.”