By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO - Gov. With a federal court refusing to grant a reprieve, Williams, 51, was set to die by injection at San Quentin Prison early Tuesday for murdering four people during two 1979 holdups.
Williams' case became one of the nation's biggest death-row cause celebres in decades. It set off a nationwide debate over the possibility of redemption on death row, with Hollywood stars and capital punishment foes arguing that Williams had made amends by writing children's books about the dangers of gangs.
But Schwarzenegger suggested Monday that Williams' supposed change of heart was not genuine, noting that the inmate had not owned up to his crimes or shown any real remorse for the countless killings committed by the Crips.
"Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?" Schwarzenegger wrote less than 12 hours before the execution. "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."
Williams' supporters were disappointed with the governor's refusal to commute the death sentence to life in prison without parole.
"The governor's 96-hour wait to give an answer was a cowardly act and was tortuous," said former "M A S H" star Mike Farrell, a death penalty opponent. "I would suggest that had he the courage of his convictions he could have gone over to San Quentin and met with Stanley Williams himself and made a determination rather than letting his staff legal adviser write this garbage."
Williams stood to become the 12th person executed in California since lawmakers reinstated the death penalty in 1977.
He 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.
Just before the governor announced his decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals denied Williams' request for a reprieve, saying there was no "clear and convincing evidence of actual innocence." The appeals court then declined to reconsider and lawyers filed an appeal with the
U.S. Supreme Court.
Defense lawyers also asked Schwarzenegger to reconsider his decision based on three new witnesses who they say surfaced in the last week.
The last California governor to grant clemency was Ronald Reagan , who spared a mentally infirm killer in 1967. Schwarzenegger a Republican who has come under fire from members of his own party as too accommodating to liberals rejected clemency twice before during his two years in office.
In denying clemency to Williams, Schwarzenegger said that the evidence of his guilt was "strong and compelling," and he dismissed suggestions that the trial was unfair.
Schwarzenegger also pointed out the brutality of the crimes, noting that Williams allegedly said about one of the killings, "You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him." According to the governor's account, Williams then made a growling noise and laughed for five to six minutes.
In addition, the governor noted that Williams dedicated his 1998 book "Life in Prison" to a list of figures that included the black militant George Jackson "a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems."
Schwarzenegger also noted that there is "little mention or atonement in his writings and his plea for clemency of the countless murders committed by the Crips following the lifestyle Williams once espoused. The senseless killing that has ruined many families, particularly in African-American communities, in the name of the Crips and gang warfare is a tragedy of our modern culture."
Williams and a friend founded the Crips in Los Angeles in 1971. Authorities say it is responsible for hundreds of deaths, many of them in battles with the rival Bloods for turf and control of the drug trade.
Among the celebrities who took up Williams' cause were Jamie Foxx, who played the gang leader in a cable movie about Williams; rapper Snoop Dogg, himself a former Crip; Sister Helen Prejean, the nun depicted in "Dead Man Walking"; abd Bianca Jagger. During Williams' 24 years on death row, a Swiss legislator, college professors and others nominated him for the Nobel Prizes in peace and literature.
"If Stanley Williams does not merit clemency," defense attorney Peter Fleming Jr. asked, "what meaning does clemency retain in this state?"
The impending execution resulted in feverish preparations over the weekend by those on both sides of the debate, with the California Highway Patrol planning to tighten security outside the prison.
A group of about three dozen death penalty protesters were joined by the Rev.
At least publicly, the person apparently least occupied with his fate seemed to be Williams himself.
"Me fearing what I'm facing, what possible good is it going to do for me? How is that going to benefit me?" Williams said in a recent interview. "If it's my time to be executed, what's all the ranting and raving going to do?"