Yes, the issue of capital punishment will always incite some degree of controversy.
The coverage and exposure of Tookie William’s case though focused more upon the question of whether redemption should be a consideration in the equation.
Convicted killer Stanley Tookie Williams, the Crips gang co-founder whose case stirred a national debate about capital punishment versus the possibility of redemption, was executed early Tuesday.
William’s authorship of children’s books with an anti-gang message was being offered by his supporters as a prime reason for clemency.
In the days leading up to the execution, state and federal courts refused to reopen his case. Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied Williams’ request for clemency, suggesting that his supposed change of heart was not genuine because he had not shown any real remorse for the killings committed by the Crips.
“Is Williams’ redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?” Schwarzenegger wrote. “Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption.”
Williams was condemned in 1981 for gunning down convenience store clerk Albert Owens, 26, at a 7-Eleven in Whittier and killing Yen-I Yang, 76, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 63, and the couple’s daughter Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 43, at the Los Angeles motel they owned. Williams claimed he was innocent.
Witnesses at the trial said he boasted about the killings, stating “You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him.” Williams then made a growling noise and laughed for five to six minutes, according to the transcript that the governor referenced in his denial of clemency.
So, if the question is about the possibility of redemption, then what would constitute sufficient evidence of such a transformation?