first_imgSACRAMENTO – The fate of former Crips leader Stanley Tookie Williams was placed Thursday in the hand of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who held a private clemency hearing to determine if the convicted murderer of four people should be executed. As some 200 Williams supporters and death-penalty opponents rallied outside the Capitol, defense attorneys urged the governor to spare Williams, saying he has renounced his criminal past and dedicated his life to keeping youths out of gangs. But prosecutors, noting the brutality of the four murders and casting doubt on Williams’ redemption, maintained that he deserves to be executed as scheduled Tuesday. Attorneys for both sides refused to reveal details about the private hearing or to characterize the governor’s reactions. Officials with the Governor’s Office also declined to comment. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals A decision could come at any time. Lead defense attorney Peter Fleming Jr. told reporters that Williams has received 100,000 e-mails and letters in support of clemency, many of them from children, parents and teachers. “I believe that Stanley Williams, for the past 13 years, has struggled mightily in the most difficult circumstances to address that problem (of gang involvement) – and to address that problem particularly in those environments where life can be seen as most hopeless,” Fleming said. “You cannot fake that for 13 years.” While in prison, Williams has worked to prevent gang violence, written nine children’s books, helped broker gang truces and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. A movie about his life, “Redemption,” starring Jamie Foxx, was released last year. But prosecutors argue that Williams was involved in the growth of the notorious Crips gang that has been responsible for thousands of killings. They say he has not truly been redeemed or helped as many people as his supporters claim. Williams has refused to tell authorities what he knows about the Crips gang, its founding and activities, saying that providing such information would make him a snitch. Prosecutors also note that Williams, who has maintained his innocence, never confessed or apologized for the four murders, although evidence of his guilt stood up through repeated appeals. Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Monaghan, who led the presentation to the governor, said the murders were so senseless and brutal that the death penalty is warranted. The execution by lethal injection is scheduled for just after midnight Tuesday at San Quentin State Prison, where Williams has been on Death Row since 1981. It would be the state’s 12th execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. It is the third death-penalty case to be considered by Schwarzenegger, who declined to grant clemency in the two previous cases. In one, triple murderer Donald Beardslee has been executed. In the other, Kevin Cooper, who murdered four people in 1983, has returned to court for further appeals. Schwarzenegger did not hold private hearings in those two cases, but a spokeswoman said he wanted to hear directly from the two sides in the Williams case. Schwarzenegger will be making the decision when he is already under political pressure from the Republican Party’s conservative base. He has angered conservatives by appointing a Democrat as his chief of staff, planning a multibillion-dollar infrastructure bond measure next year and taking other steps in a shift back to the political center. But Schwarzenegger also has faced an outpouring of high-profile public pleas from death-penalty opponents, Hollywood celebrities and others to spare Williams’ life. Joan Sturgis, a friend of the Williams family, said Williams has redeemed himself through his anti-gang work in prison. “If you were to look at his Web site and read all of the letters that have come to him from children all across this nation who had an opportunity to read his books and hear him speak over the phones into the classrooms, you’ll see he is deterring kids from gangs,” Sturgis said. Williams’ parents, ex-wife and son did not travel to Sacramento because of the stress they have been under recently, Sturgis said. With the governor’s decision now pending, Los Angeles community activists braced for possible escalation of racial tensions if clemency is denied. Tony Muhammad, western regional director for the Nation of Islam who is known for his anti-gang work and his own recent scuffle with police officers, said executing Williams might touch off “a serious powder keg” of anger at law enforcement within the black community. But Joe Hicks, vice president of Community Advocates and a former city Human Relations Commission leader, said he doubts there will be unrest. “There’s a lot of people in the community who see this guy as a thug and a killer,” Hicks said. Los Angeles Police Department officials said they are not expecting any civil unrest when the decision is announced, and the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations has sent a memo to community leaders, schools and clergy on peacekeeping strategies. “In light of the tremendous human trauma and damage to our communities that resulted from the rebellion/riots of 1992, we need to take steps to promote a nonviolent response to whatever the decision may be,” the commission executive director, Robin Toma, said in a written statement. Staff Writer Dan Laidman contributed to this story. Harrison Sheppard, (916) 446-6723 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. 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