December 10, 2005

Schwarzenegger still undecided on clemency

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger will not decide on Saturday whether to grant
clemency to former Crips gang leader Stanley Tookie Williams,
who is slated to be executed on Tuesday for murdering four
people in 1979, his office said.

Barring clemency or last-minute court intervention,
officials will administer a lethal injection to Williams at
12:01 a.m. on Tuesday in the death chamber at San Quentin State

The case has generated widespread interest and fierce
debate over the death penalty in the United States because
Williams, 51, has written a series of books warning young
people against gangs and says he has found redemption.

His supporters have said he should be spared so he can
continue his anti-gang work from behind bars.

The governor's office told Reuters that Schwarzenegger
would not be making a decision on Saturday and gave no
indication of when he would.

Following a clemency hearing on Thursday, Schwarzenegger
said the decision was a "heavy responsibility" and he was
carefully studying all sides of the issue.

Granting clemency would be a risk for Schwarzenegger,
weakened by a stinging loss on all his initiatives in a special
election he called last month, as it could alienate his
Republican party.

But it could help boost his flagging popularity in a state
where Democrats are the largest party as he looks to reelection
in 2006.

U.S. governors typically stay executions because of doubts
over evidence in the case or fairness of the trial rather than
because of redemption. Williams has said he did not commit the
murders, but said he hurt many people as leader of the Crips
gang in the Los Angeles area.