December 1, 2005
Tookie's Tales
By Debra Saunders

Lies so pervade the campaign waged to "save" convicted killer Stanley Tookie Williams that Williams and company don't even bother to cover their tracks when they say things they know aren't true.

So in an interview Monday with MSNBC's fatuous Rita Cosby, as Williams' Dec. 13 execution date looms and supporters are pressing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant him clemency, the death row inmate claimed that he was convicted by an "all-white jury." That's not true, and Williams knows it.

In fact, Williams' own clemency lawyers have stipulated that the jury that convicted him in the 1979 murders of Albert Owens, Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang and Yee Chen Lin during two armed robberies was not all-white. In the clemency petition, Williams' latest set of lawyers argued that prosecutor Robert Martin had kicked all African Americans off the jury. When prosecutors produced a death certificate that showed that juror William McLurkin was black, the lawyers noted in a reply that it doesn't matter if McLurkin was black or part-black, because he "looked Filipino."

Hello. That's not white. Williams' own Web site ( features a fact sheet that, while asserting that no African Americans were on the jury, stipulates a Filipino and Latino served on the jury.

Why did Williams say something that he knew wasn't true? I just figure he knew he could get away with it. In the MSNBC transcript of the Cosby interview, Williams, a co-founder of the Crips gang in South Central Los Angeles when a teenager, said, "I never ordered, nor have I initiated, any killings on my part, period."

The not-guilty-of-murder quote flies in the face of the clemency petition's "atonement" claim. To wit: Williams "has accepted responsibility, repented and done whatever he could, from where he is, to atone."

No: Williams has done whatever he could to seem to apologize, while dodging any consequences of admitting his crimes. Let me add a few things you may not know: The not-all-white jury convicted Williams after his alibi defense crumbled. Also, jurors had learned of Williams' plans for an armed escape from jail. The jury foreman testified that when the guilty verdict was announced, Williams mouthed this threat to the panel: "I'm going to get each and every one of you mother--."

Over the years as he appealed his conviction, his appellate lawyers claimed that Williams did not receive adequate counsel because his trial lawyer did not use a diminished capacity defense, as Williams was brain-damaged -- due to drug abuse, mental illness and head injuries.

An appellate judge weighed in, "A mental-state defense would have contradicted (the alibi) defense by conceding petitioner's presence at the scenes of the murders." Despite numerous appeals, various courts -- including the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- continued to uphold his conviction.

His lawyers now laud Williams because he "refuses to make a false confession, knowing it could benefit him penally, (which) shows the strength of his character." What then of his character on the brain-damage dodge -- an odd defense for a man whom supporters hail as a jailhouse philosopher and co-author of children's books?

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo told me he sees Williams' legacy as one of "death and violence" -- with more than 300 gang-related homicides in Los Angeles alone each year. "No matter how he tries to distance himself from violent gangs, he helped create them," Delgadillo noted.

Crediting Williams for denouncing gangs is sort of like praising tobacco companies for their anti-smoking campaigns. Should Schwarzenegger grant clemency? Delgadillo said, "I think the justice system has done its job, and a jury of his peers found him guilty." (In plain talk: no clemency.)

Williams' lawyers also say the clemency petition only asks for life without parole. That is technically true -- and entirely misleading, considering Williams' many claims to MSNBC's Cosby that he is "innocent," and that "being able to live, it would allow me to prove my innocence." That can only mean one thing: That after the execution is stayed, Williams will spend years filing more appeals. He won't be satisfied with a life behind bars. He wants out.

Back in 2000, when Swiss legislator Mario Fehr nominated Williams for the Nobel Peace Prize, Fehr told me over the phone that Williams "might not even have killed those four people. I don't know what he did 20 years ago." Fehr, you see, wanted to send the message to young people "that no matter what mistakes you have made in your life, you can change for the better."

The Tookie-philes are so filled with their own uplifting message that they are participating in a campaign to free a convicted killer. They can't really care that Williams gunned down four innocent people -- not when they are willing to embrace his lies, and abet a cold-blooded killer's bid to go free.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

Debra Saunders

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