— Death Penalty Action (@DeathPenaltyAct) April 27, 2017
Kenneth Williams, scheduled for execution tonight, and the family of a man killed in a wreck while Williams was trying to avoid capture following a murder, have written Gov. Asa Hutchinson asking for a reprieve.
Williams’ attorneys have asked for a temporary reprieve so that he may be able to present additional evidence in support of clemency to the state Parole Board, which has previously recommended against clemency. The contend his intellectual capacity is so limited it should make him ineligible for execution. This argument has been rejected in court so far.
Also: Kayla Greenwood, the daughter of victim Michael Greenwood, a truck driver killed in a wreck with Williams’ stolen vehicle, and Stacey Yaw, Greenwood’s widow, have said they’d like to testify for clemency in Williams’ behalf. They’ve also asked to meet with the governor. Here’s Greenwood’s letter.
A news release on the letters says that the governor has often cited his respect for victims’ wishes in ordering executions. Said the release: “Neither the Governor nor the Parole board have sought or afforded the Greenwood family the opportunity to be heard in Mr. Williams’s case. As a result, the Parole Board never heard that Michael Greenwood’s family members have forgiven Mr. Williams and wish for his life to be spared.”
The release continued:
Kayla Greenwood, the daughter of victim Michael Greenwood, sent Governor Hutchinson a letter this morning asking the Governor to spare Mr. Williams’s life. While acknowledging that Mr. Williams’s actions from nearly twenty years ago caused her family considerable pain, she believes that executing Mr. Williams would only cause them “additional suffering.”
In her letter, Ms. Greenwood explained that if she had known about Mr. Williams request for clemency, her family would have requested to testify at the hearing on behalf of Mr. Williams and would have asked the board to grant clemency. Ms. Greenwood now asks for that opportunity for her family to be heard. Ms. Greenwood also wishes to meet with Governor Hutchinson in the hopes that her sincere desire to see Mr. Williams live might convince the Governor to spare Mr. Williams’s life today. She hopes that Mr. Williams will be granted clemency and will have the opportunity to continue to positively impact other prison inmates and continue to use his life and experience to “council and help people who may be in a dark place.”
Stacey Yaw, Michael Greenwood’s widow and Kayla’s mother, wrote today:
“On October 4th 1999 I became a widow and a single mother of three. I was 6 months pregnant with twins and had a five year old daughter. Parenting up to that point had been a fun joyful experience but after the day my husband was killed it became the biggest challenge I would ever face. I was left with a broken hearted five year old girl that had been traumatized and it changed the course of our life forever.
I’m asking you to spare Mr. Williams life because I am now faced again with a heart broken daughter that feels she needs to meet her father’s killer face to face and tell him she forgives him for her closure and was denied that opportunity. We also did not get informed or invited to testify at his clemency hearing. We all would have spoken to the parole board and told them we didn’t want Mr. Williams executed. As a family of very strong faith we don’t feel taking a life is up to us to decide. We believe In following Gods will.”
FYI: What others are saying and cartooning.
UPDATE: A response from the governor:
“I have reviewed the letter from the Greenwood family, and I appreciate the genuine spirit of forgiveness and compassion demonstrated by Ms. Greenwood. Her letter certainly has an impact, however my responsibility is to look at the totality of the case including the view of all the victims and the interest of justice. Kenneth Williams murdered multiple people, and actions have consequences. Kenneth Williams murdered 19-year-old Nikki Hurd and was charged with capital murder. Williams was then spared the death penalty by the jury who gave him life in prison without the possibility of parole. Despite this showing of mercy, Kenneth Williams determined to escape from prison. After 18 days in prison, he escaped and took human life again with the killing of Cecil Boren. These facts support the final verdict of the second jury in giving the death penalty.”