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Transcript: The Debate on Clemency for Tookie Williams
Written by Chris Wallace / Published December 12, 2005 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a transcript from "FOX News Sunday" on Dec. 11, 2005:
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JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: I don't know if a lot of people really understand what he has done. He wrote on pieces of toilet paper books for children to read to tell them not to do some of the things that he did in his life and end up where he was.
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JOHN MONAGHAN, PROSECUTOR: The murders were senseless. They were very brutal, and that Mr. Williams should pay the ultimate penalty for his crimes.
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CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: That's actor Jamie Foxx and Los Angeles prosecutor John Monaghan talking about a death penalty case that has provoked national debate. Stanley "Tookie" Williams is set to be executed at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning for the murder of four people back in 1979.
Williams was the co-founder of the notorious street gang The Crips. What's drawn celebrities and others to Williams' cause is the claim he's become a changed man in prison, speaking out against gangs. California Governor Schwarzenegger is considering whether to commute his sentence to life in prison.
For more on all this, we're joined now by Robert Martin, the prosecutor who put Williams behind bars, and advocate Bianca Jagger, who is one of the celebrities calling for clemency. They join us from Los Angeles.
And we want to thank both of you for coming in today. The clemency petition submitted By "Tookie" Williams' lawyers talks about redemption, rehabilitation. It says the following, and let's put it up on the screen, "This petition is not about the death penalty or about reversing the judgments of the courts. It asks in the name of so many who see this man as a symbol of hope and purpose in their own lives what message is sent by his death."
Mr. Martin, as the man who put "Tookie" Williams behind bars, what message do you think is sent by his death?
PROSECUTOR ROBERT MARTIN: Let me say at the outset, Chris, that I respect the opinion of those people who oppose the death penalty, and clemency is provided by the government for those exceptional and rare cases that are appropriate.
I don't believe that Stanley Williams qualifies on those grounds. He's non-repentant. He has committed multiple murders. Friends and acquaintances have come into the courtroom and testified that he bragged about the killings.
The people that he killed were — it was senseless because to do the robberies, he didn't need to kill anybody. He's devastated the Yang family. He's devastated the Owens family. At the trial, documentary evidence of a mass murder escape plan was in his own handwriting.
He was tried by a racially mixed jury. He had excellent counsel in Joe Ingber and Steve...
WALLACE: Mr. Martin?
WALLACE: Let me break in here just because, obviously, we can't...
WALLACE: ... retry the case, and I think that you have made the point. So let me ask Ms. Jagger about this.
We know that "Tookie" Williams has written a series of books for children condemning gangs. He's spoken out against gang violence. But can that possibly outweigh the brutal murder of four innocent people?
"TOOKIE" WILLIAMS SUPPORTER, BIANCA JAGGER: Well, let me answer a few of the issues that Mr. Martin raised.
WALLACE: Well, I'd like you to answer my question.
JAGGER: Indeed, I think that clemency is there for people who — exceptional cases, as Mr. Martin said, that have been able to redeem themself and rehabilitate themself and no longer pose a threat to society.
That is what is required from the governor when he decide whether somebody deserve to live or die and whether somebody deserve for him to grant clemency.
In addition to that, I would like to say that with respect to the other things that he said — let's take the case of Mr. Martin, for example, who insisted in dismissing three of the jurors because they were black.
WALLACE: Well, let me — Ms. Jagger, let me...
JAGGER: I would like to, in addition to...
WALLACE: No. Ms. Jagger...
JAGGER: And I would like to...
WALLACE: ... Let me interrupt, because I think that's...
WALLACE: ... a fair point, but we have limited time. Let me briefly give Mr. Martin, you know, just a few seconds to respond to that.
If you will, sir.
MARTIN: Both of those are distortions. No court ever reversed on the basis of anything that I did. Both of those cases she mentioned — the court said that the judge did not carry out the procedure he was supposed to carry out when any jurors are challenged.
And as far as dismissing jurors, the two black jurors, one was a schoolteacher who said she could not really be away for three months from her classrooms, and she would not be able to concentrate on the evidence. The other was a psychologist who said that he would pay more attention to psychological things than he would the evidence.
WALLACE: Let me bring in Ms. Jagger, if I can.
JAGGER: Chris, may I just...
WALLACE: No, Ms. Jagger, let me ask a question, will you? Let's talk about this question of redemption on the part of "Tookie" Williams. He has never admitted that he committed the crimes. He has never, therefore, apologized for them.
And perhaps even more important, he has never provided information to police, while he's been in prison, about The Crips gang and other murders that have been committed. Does that really indicate redemption?
JAGGER: Well, first, to address the issue of remorse and apologizing, Mr. Williams has maintained from the very beginning that he did not commit those crimes. I don't know if you know that there were not DNA evidence. There was no blood. The only basis on the way that they condemn him was because of an informant.
Now, there are questionable evidence about the shell of the — the bullet shell, and they have always asked to have the opportunity to have photomicrograph, because the way it was determined at the time was not a scientific way.
In addition to that, I think that this whole idea that he did not provide evidence against The Crip is just the new evidence that they're finding in order to discredit him.
What more do you want from someone who has work, who has written nine books, who has been nominated five times for a Nobel peace prize, who has done everything to turn away young people from violence and from a life of crime and that look to seem as a role model? I mean...
WALLACE: Well, let me ask — Ms. Jagger, let me ask Mr. Martin about that.
Is there anything that a convicted murder could do in prison, any sort of rehabilitation or good works, that would make you say you know what, it's a waste to execute him?
MARTIN: Chris, I think that on that topic, we have to say that there's been no remorse, no apologies to the families. He's taken no responsibility. The only thing he regrets are crimes that he's never been charged with.
In his own words, he had committed robberies and assaults in his own neighborhood, and went about gang banging. He said he regrets that. But that's a home free card. He's never been charged with that.
If he does not take responsibility for the four brutal murders that he committed, he can't begin to be rehabilitated, and we can't say that there's a moral equivalency between four brutal murders and co-authoring some children's books. I think society is not going to accept that.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask Ms. Jagger about that.
I mean, it gets, again, back to that. You've got some good works that he has committed in prison. On the other hand, I mean...
WALLACE: ... you talk about — let me just finish if may, Ms. Jagger. You talk about four brutal murders. There was a young man who was shot in the back during a robbery at a 7-11, an elderly couple and their daughter who were running a motel. For a $100 robbery, they were killed. I mean, how can you compare the moral equivalency of one with the other?
JAGGER: Well, Mr. Wallace, you know that until now, more than a hundred people have walked away because they were wrongfully convicted. I do believe that Mr. Williams was wrongfully convicted and he should have been afforded the opportunity to be able to prove that he was not.
It is important perhaps that we read the dissenting statement made by some of the judges in the 9th Circuit and who themselves said at the end that they thought that he was deserving of a clemency from the governor. So there is so much...
WALLACE: But the fact is...
JAGGER: ... and so many reasons why Mr....
WALLACE: ... Ms. Jagger, that the California Supreme Court and the federal courts — and you're quite right about that dissent, but it was a dissent from the majority opinion. The California Supreme Court and the federal courts have all turned down Mr. Williams' appeals.
JAGGER: Yes, but in the Ninth Circuit, you had nine judges who dissented against — among the 11 judges. And in addition to that, I would like to say that Mr. Williams has rehabilitated himself, has redeem himself, and deserve to have a clemency from the governor.
I mean, if he's not an example of how someone can change their life, what do you need to do in order to become somebody better in the justice system?
And do you know, by the way, that the Senate — the State Senate Commission has called for an investigation on the fair application of the death penalty. That will take two years. And the reason why they've done it is because they feel — and this is a bipartisan commission — that the application of the death penalty in California is not fair and leads to wrongful conviction.
WALLACE: But let me interrupt and just say, again, you know, your own clemency — not your own, but "Tookie" Williams' clemency probe says this is not about the death penalty. It's about redemption. And let me, because we are running out of time, go back to...
JAGGER: It's about both.
WALLACE: ... let me go back to Mr. Martin for a final comment on this question of rehabilitation, redemption, versus punishment.
MARTIN: Yes. Let's agree that every single issue in this case has been examined with great scrutiny by every court in the land. No court has found that there's any difficulty with the evidence, and they have all affirmed his guilt.
Therefore, how can we possibly say that the defendant here, who still denies that he did these crimes, can be rehabilitated? The governor, I believe, will be looking at whether the evidence is ironclad, and since he is sworn to uphold the law, he's going to look at what the courts have said.
And I believe he's going to have to realize that we must have confidence in our court structure. Otherwise, we're a lawless society.
WALLACE: Mr. Martin, Ms. Jagger, we're going to have to leave it there. We know we could go on much longer. We want to thank you both for discussing the case with us. And as we've mentioned, Governor Schwarzenegger has to make a decision by 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning.
THIS SUNDAY: Chris will sit down for an exclusive interview with Jared Bernstein, Economist at The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and David McIntosh, President of The Club for Growth.