Stanley Tookie Williams, Killed by the State of California


Stanley "Tookie" Williams
Stanley "Tookie" Williams


12/13/2005: Stanley Tookie Williams III was executed early this morning by lethal injection administered by the state of California. Williams, who was weeks from his 52nd birthday, is said to have been a co-founder of the Crips gang in Los Angeles. In 1981, he was convicted of the 1979 murders of four people in the Los Angeles area. After 6.5 years in solitary confinement on Death Row at San Quentin, he renounced his past gang affiliation. He wrote several books and started programs to discourage youth from joining gangs. A film starring Jamie Foxx entitled "Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story," was made to tell his story. Williams never admitted to having committed the murders for which he was convicted. This was one reason that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger cited for denying him clemency. Supporters of Williams tried to submit issues to various legal bodies in hopes of being granted a stay of execution. If a 60-day stay had been granted, it would have given time for courts to examine the legal issues that are outstanding in the case. It would have also given California's legislative bodies a chance to vote on AB 1121, the California Moratorium on Executions Act. Read more
Thousands of protesters held a vigil in front of San Quentin as Williams was killed. Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Coverage of People's Clemency Hearing and 12/12 Protests
Read More about Tookie on Indybay's Police State and California News Pages

Supporters of Williams tried to submit issues to various legal bodies in hopes of being granted a stay of execution. If a 60-day stay had been granted, it would have given time for courts to examine the legal issues that are outstanding in the case. It would have also given California's legislative bodies a chance to vote on AB 1121, the California Moratorium on Executions Act. Read more from Californians for a Moratorium on Executions The death warrant for Stanley Tookie Williams was signed in October. His execution date was set for December, while the two other men whose warrants were signed that day received execution dates in January and February of 2006. Read more

In the days before his death, a new witness appeared: Gordon Von Ellerman has reported that he had knowledge that Oglesby, a witness who testified against Williams, had in 1979-80 been studying to help frame Williams. Von Ellerman named several other people who he thought could corroborate his statement.

One issue in appeals in this case highlighted the fact that the prosecutor in Tookie's original trial removed three African-American jurors from the jury. During this trial, this prosecutor made racially-coded remarks during his closing argument, comparing Stan during the trial to a Bengal tiger in the zoo and stating that a black community - South Central Los Angeles - was equivalent to the natural "habitat" of a Bengal Tiger. The U.S. Supreme Court disregarded 9 of the 24 Ninth Circuit Court judges' assertion that the District Attorney at Tookie's trial employed "reprehensible and unconstitutional" racist tactics. This landmark ruling means that all over the US, people of color can be rejected from juries based on the color of their skin.

Petitions to the US Justice Department and to Governor Schwarzenegger (1 | 2) were signed by hundreds of thousands of people, and many, many letters and phone calls were issued-- to no avail. Interviews: Democracy Now | Flashpoints | Wake Up Call 12/12/05 | What I would do with the rest of my life
People who met with Stanley Tookie Williams: Rev. Jesse Jackson | Jamie Foxx | Snoop Dogg

More statements:
Death Row prisoner Steve Allen Champion, a.k.a. Adisa Akanni Kamara | Political prisoner Kalima Aswad | Tom Hayden | Mesha Monge-Irizarry | NAACP Press Conference via Telephone during 12/12 Women's Show on KPFA, including attorneys for Williams | Death Penalty Focus | NAACP

Past Indybay coverage from Indybay's Police State Page:
People's Clemency Hearing and Protests on 12/12 | November 30th Day of Action Against Executions | Teach-ins, Day of Action, November 19th Rally at San Quentin | October 2005: Supreme Court Says Racial Bias Doesn't Merit Appeal | 2/2/05

SaveTookie.org | Tookie.com | Campaign to End the Death Penalty | Death Penalty Focus | Wikipedia's biography of Stanley Tookie Williams

add a comment on this article

Bericht auf deutsch (report in german)

at.IMC 15.Dec.2005 14:17

Vollzug der Todesstrafe: Stanley Tookie Williams wurde umbegracht!

Stanley Tookie Williams III wurde am frühen Morgen des 13. Dezember 2005 mit einer Giftspritze im US-Bundesstaat California hingerichtet. Governeur Arnold Schwarzenegger hatte zuvor das Gnadengesuch von Stanley "Tookie" Williams abgelehnt. Seit 1976 sind bereits mehr als 1000 Menschen in den USA hingerichtet worden, vielen weiteren droht die Exekution in den nächsten Tagen und Wochen.

I pity you all

Dundee 23.Dec.2005 07:55

A pity that live today has become such that all of a sudden murderers have human rights but normal citizens don't. Come on people - where is the balance?? Is it all right if I murder 4 or more people in cold blod and then say "oops, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to" and then everything is all right??? That is why criminals are ruling the world, because there is nothing that puts the fright of the devil up their arses. I say - good riddance - if you take a life, you should give yours - goodbye Tookie - at least you won't kill again.


中国医药网 26.Dec.2005 02:06


Sleepless Night

John D Evans 28.Dec.2005 06:57

Sleepless Night

They thought I was asleep

That night they took my brother away

No dream I could keep

With tears flooding my face

He said I could be redeemed

Showed me how change takes place

Gave me a reason to believe

That love forgives mistakes

And they thought I was asleep

When they took him away

How can I just fall asleep

With all of these tears in my face

Rest in Peace

Stanley “Tookie” Williams


Thank you for teaching us

That redemption begins within

By John D. Evans

The Evans Poetry Collection


Promoting global peace from 2006 to eternity!

"Absolute justice denies freedom"

T.Rios 01.Jan.2006 23:54

For many years I supported the liberal use of the death penalty. But after studying and seriously considering the issue over the past several years I'm now against the death penalty. An officially sanctioned death penalty should have no place in any rational society.

As there is no tangible verifiable statistical evidence that the death penalty reduces violent crime it must be logically concluded that the desire to carry out a death sentence is either based upon ignorance or upon a passion for revenge. The only possible rational reason that can be given for murder is strict self-defense of ones life or the life of another. The murder of a subdued and imprisoned person does not fit this criterion of necessary self-defense.

Individuals at times will occasionally give into and carry out their irrational destructive passions, such as a passion to commit murder, or to revenge a murder by committing or sanctioning another murder, but even so I don't think that society as a whole should condone passions that are destructive to human life, especially by making them into a law. Instead society should seek to stand as a correcting voice of reason against individual desires and passions that are destructive to life.

Perhaps if someone murdered one of my loved ones I too would desire revenge? Likely so. But even so, I would not consider my desire for revenge rational, or good, or much less that that desire should be made manifest into a general law. I would realize that my passion for revenge must be mine to deal with alone and that I, for the benefit of society, must try not to project my misfortune or my primitive and irrational urges and weaknesses back onto society in order to justify them, no matter how powerfully I felt them welling within me. If I was ultimately unable to control my passions and I carried out the murder, of the murderer, in a spirt of revenge, I would likewise not expect societies adulation or praise.

It should also be considered that Mr. Williams conviction was based largely upon the testimony of other criminals who had something to gain in testifying against Mr. Williams. There is always the possibility that the state's evidence was and remains wrong? Even the contention that:" the shotgun shells found at the scene of the murders were consistent with Mr. William's shotgun" is not completely conclusive, as the following states: "two shells lacked sufficient identifying characteristics to be conclusively matched to Williams' shotgun (TT 2301-2310)." The firearms expert testified: "that they were consistent with having been fired from that weapon", not conclusively fired from that weapon, just consistent with being fired from that type of weapon,a slide-action shotgun, of which there must be hundreds of thousands in existence. Considering this I wonder how many other shotguns out there might eject shells that in comparison are likewise consistent with the expended shells in question?

Although I'm not a trained "firearms expert" I was once a bit of a "gun nut" and do know something about firearms and I doubt that there is any accurate way of telling if a certain shell, as opposed to bullet, was fired from a certain gun based upon an expended shell alone, in which case all you have is a cartridge case and an primer with a tiny dent from the impact of the weapons firing pin. I believe that one needs the expended bullet that has been fired through the distinctive rifling pattern, built into the barrel to stabilize a bullets path in flight, in order to conclusively prove whether or not a bullet was fired from a certain individual weapon. To begin with many shotguns are smooth bores without any rifling and if buckshot were used, even in a rifled barrel, that would seem to preclude any conclusive determination that a bullet was fired from a particular firearm. The shotgun owned by Mr. Williams was a twelve-gauge High Standard slide-action, a massed produced firearm, which I doubt leaves any distinguishing evidence on expended shells cycled through it's action. I'd like to see a test that compares the expended shells from a twelve-gauge High Standard pump like Mr. Williams against those expended from a cross section of several dozen similar Remington, Mossberg, Savage, Winchester, high Standard etc pump shotguns, I want to see if any of the experts can tell with any accuracy if a shell was fired and expended from which out of a group of shells expended from each?

Innocent people are convicted quite often in the U.S. legal system. For example in Illinois 13 men on death row were later freed after new evidence was found that proved their innocence. Yet the state who prosecuted and sentenced them and the juries that convicted them felt that the evidence against them had been conclusive enough to give these men the absolute penalty of death.

If it didn't get rid of the death penalty all together at the very least a sincere society would raise it's proof of guilt standards for cases involving the death penalty. It would remove the standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" and raise them to that of a "physically uncontestable doubt". Meaning that conclusive physical evidence, as in DNA evidence or a surveillance camera footage of the crime in which the perpetrator could be easily and clearly identified would be required in order for the death sentence to be imposed. However even if that were the case I would still be against the death penalty in principal and in fact in actuality even barring the possibility of faulty evaluations or outright falsification by law enforcement, both of which can and do occur.

I personally know individuals, some of whom I am related to, who are all for the death penalty, I was once among them (It's hard to be fair to a cold blooded killer), and are not shy about making statements that such and such convict should be executed. The thing that really bothers me about their opinions is that, for the most part, the people that I know that advocate such punishment have usually never even given the particular case they are voicing an opinion about even 10 minutes of consecutive thought or much less any detailed study, yet they feel perfectly justified in advocating an irrevocable punishment, upon what appears to me to be based more upon a presumption of guilt then a detailed analysis of the case at hand. It's almost as if their stance is that an evil was done and someone must pay, an eye for an eye, a 'bad' person, perhaps even if he may be the wrong person, must pay in kind. With one of my relatives in particular, a very conservative, archetypical law and order type, the contempt that they displayed towards Mr. Williams seemed based as much on his previous persona and gang affiliations as it was upon the murders that he was convicted of.

The late Albert Camus, once wrote, quite rightly in my opinion, that: "Absolute freedom mocks at justice. Absolute justice denies freedom". Well I would say that one can't get much more absolute in the pursuit of justice then the imposition of the death penalty, it's irrevocability makes it absolute without contention.

Tookie Williams and The Circus Sideshow - A bedtime story

an observer 12.Jan.2006 08:27

Found this article several days ago regarding this issue as I was perusing the web about the death penalty. I thought it represented a great point about this story and how it pertains to the issue of the death penalty. I have linked the site as well.

From "The Flossing of America"

For the past couple of weeks, we have been subjected to the unearthing of an old debate - The death penalty. Last night, after trying to find a vein for several minutes, they put Stanley Williams to death by use of lethal injection. State-sponsored murder in some minds, rightful punishment in others, we have heard the arguments at length.

Some say he was a cold blooded, unrepentant murderer, incapable of proving to anyone the worth of his life. Some say he was a reformed bad guy who dedicated his later years to combating the very ills that landed him in his predicament. I wish I could have ran CNN and FOX side by side last night as they talked of the event. CNN focussed on the brutality of the ritual of the death penalty, and FOX focussed on the brutality of this particular man and the organization he helped define. Someone today, is pointing at one station or the other, and screaming, "bias." Either would be correct.

There was a legitimate news story in this circus, not that anyone bothered to research, investigate, or report it. There was some room for spirited and fruitful debates, but the media would settle for, "But he's a good guy now." or "But he's a murderer." Wow, that's a thought provoking debate that is sure to bring about real solutions. It is times like this when I know there is little to no hope for us.

Here's the reality of the death penalty. It is an archaic form of revenge punishment, that is not endorsed by our own legal system for our citizens. If someone killed a loved one of mine, and I hunted them down and killed them, that is not a legitimate defense in this system of law. I would still spend the rest of my life behind bars, however the mitigating circumstance would prevent me from facing the death penalty, irony I believe they call it. Nonetheless, if someone killed my loved one, and I make a big enough stink about the brutality, I can get the state to murder them for me. Anyone who finds closure in the death of a man who perpetrated a crime against their loved one, finds it because they believe in an 'eye for an eye.' I don't begrudge them their hostility and resentment, as we can all understand it, but let's not wrap it up in a package of closure and justice. Let's call it what it is, revenge.

I think my biggest problem with the death penalty may be that not everyone who commits crimes that fit the statute, actually face this punishment, in fact not even a reasonable percentage. You don't have to turn it into a discussion of race, socioeconomic status, or celebrity, because all of those factor into these decisions, and a list of many, many more.

Capital punishment does not deter people from committing these heinous acts, it is only another bargaining chip for prosecutors so that they can avoid trials in cases with sketchy evidence. Plea bargains are used for one of two reasons. One, plead to a lesser charge so that we can all go home; or two, we have sketchy circumstantial evidence, but do you really want to roll the dice with your life? That should make anyone nervous.

Unfortunately, a real discussion about the death penalty is not what came out of this circumstance, it was the discussion of killing this man, Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Williams was a cofounder of the infamous ‘Crips’ street gang, the mafia of South Central. To put this in perspective, Tookie talking about the dangers and evils of gang life would be very similar to John Gotti reaching out to the children born into mafia life, and telling them to get out. These men were folk heroes to children. That too, should scare the shit out of you.

I find hope in people like Williams, who act on epiphanies, and try to make things better for the upcoming generations. Regretfully, he missed half of the point. There’s a lot more to this story than anyone has challenged, and that says a lot about the state of journalism in this country. Stanley “Tookie” Williams went to a green, sterile room never having acknowledged his crimes, let alone seeking any type of forgiveness. He maintained his innocence to the bitter end.

I would venture a guess that maybe he was innocent of these particular murders, being convicted almost solely on witness testimony after the fact. But, putting all of the circumstantial evidence together, it was quite a compelling case. However, even if he were innocent of these crimes, he was hardly a man with no blood on his hands. He was hardly a man who felt compelled to own his crimes, and for that, it is hard to buy into the 'innocent' pleas.

Let’s say for argument's sake, that this man was wrongly convicted in these crimes. He was on death row for crimes he did not commit, but as a cofounder of this gang, we can all acknowledge that he was a murderer, that he was a very viscous and ruthless villain at that time. It is my contention that there is no redemption without truth, and as the age-old saying goes, “The truth will set you free.”

If, in fact, he was railroaded and set up, what better way to prove it than by atoning for what he really did do? The dialogue leading up to his death early Tuesday morning would have been much different. If, upon his epiphany, he decided to come clean, and acknowledge his crimes of the past, he would have accomplished two things, the step to redemption, and the exposing of what our legal system often does with bad guys they can’t ‘catch in the act.’

It would not surprise me if the truth was stretched and ethics were bent in an effort to put this brutal man behind bars, especially given the timeframe in our history when this all took place. But, the only way to have had that exposed was for this man to say, “I didn’t do this, but here is what I did do...” He was a man who belonged behind bars, and it would be hard to argue otherwise. He had nothing to lose by owning what he had done in the past, as they can’t kill him more than once.

If he was truthful in his maintaining of innocence, a statement to crimes he actually did commit, would have changed everything. He may have still entered that room early Tuesday morning, but he could have forced debate in this country about truth, justice, and how they don’t always go hand in hand. He could have exposed a dirty little secret about bad guys on the streets, and how those in our justice system will abandon good to lock them up.

His legacy would not be up for interpretation. He could not be questioned for his lack of remorse. He could have died on December 13, 2005 as a man who owned what he did, his ruthless past, and his road to redemption. But, it is too late. Another compelling story is whittled down to a game of ‘I’m rubber and you’re glue.’ Another man, in the rare position to make real change, chooses instead to talk about the high road rather than find it and walk it.

Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams is no hero. It is hard to ignore the grotesque past that he wore proudly until the very end. It is hard to ignore the many changes he went through as a man, some that spawned acts that will forever change the lives of young men who would otherwise walk the dead end road of gangs. He did make a difference, in the lives of those who have to live with the residue of his crimes, and in the lives of those who could have become him. He could have made a difference for himself, and he could have made a difference for us all. He could have been a hero, instead, we have just one more thing to argue about on the op/ed pages.


Tookie should'nt have beenput to death.

jadder 08.Jan.2007 07:43

I don't think Tookie should have been put to death. Yes he made alot of bad mistakes but who hasnt. I was in Woods Bend Youth Development center when Tookies book found me. I was the same as him , I just got another chance to change my life. His words, His thoughts, and his ambishion is what helped me. It kept me going. He helped me change just like many others. And peopel don't ever wnat to give you a chance they always want to judge a book by its cover. An Tookie may be gone but he will always be remembered and deepley respected.