Stanley Williams

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Stanley "Tookie" Williams
Born Stanley Williams III
(1953-12-29)December 29, 1953
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
Died December 13, 2005(2005-12-13) (aged 51)
San Quentin Prison, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Gang Leader, Activist, Writer
Criminal charge First degree murder with special circumstance
Criminal penalty Death penalty
Criminal status Executed
Spouse(s) Bonnie Williams-Taylor (m. 1981)
Children 3

Stanley Tookie Williams III (December 29, 1953 – December 13, 2005) was an American gang member and convicted murderer, who co-founded the West Side Crips, a street gang which has its roots in South Central Los Angeles in 1969.[1] In 1979, he was convicted of murdering four people— a 7-Eleven employee, and in a separate occasion, an elderly Taiwanese couple and their daughter — and sentenced to death.

On December 13, 2005, Williams was executed by lethal injection after clemency and a four-week stay of execution were both rejected by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, amid debate over the death penalty. Williams was the second inmate in California to be executed in 2005.


Williams was born on December 29, 1953 in Delhi, Louisiana to a 17-year-old mother. His father abandoned the family when Williams was just a year old. In 1959, Williams moved with his mother from New Orleans to Los Angeles, California, and settled in South Central Los Angeles.[citation needed]

As Williams' mother worked several jobs to support them, Williams was a latchkey kid and often engaged in mischief on the streets. He recalled that, as a child, he would hang out in abandoned houses and vacant lots around his neighborhood in South Central where he would watch adults get drunk, abuse drugs, gamble and engage in pit bull fights. Williams stated that after the adults finished the dog fighting they would make the children fight each other. Williams participated in these street fights regularly as a child where adults would bet on him and give him part of the proceeds for winning his fights. Williams was often the target of older bullies in his neighborhood and, by the age of twelve, he began carrying a switchblade in order to protect himself against older street thugs.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

By the time Williams reached his teens he had gained a reputation on the West Side as a vicious street fighter. Williams was expelled from George Washington Preparatory High School and was blackballed by several high schools in South Central L.A. for fighting and had begun doing stints in Central Juvenile Hall. In the late 1960s juvenile crime increased in South Central L.A. as new youth gangs formed after older gangs such as the Slausons and the Gladiators disbanded and their members joined the Black Power Movement, most notably as part of the Black Panther Party. Initially Williams despised the predatory street gangs in South Central. Because of his viciousness and willingness to fight older youths, many of whom belonged to small-time street gangs, Williams earned the respect of many neighborhood thugs on the West Side who were leaders of their own small-time cliques.

At age fifteen Williams befriended a teenager named Donald "Doc/Sweetback" Archie. Archie was part of a small-time West Side clique and Williams earned the clique's respect quickly after beating up one of their members for insulting his mother. As Williams' violent reputation began to spread across South Central L.A. he became the unofficial leader of this clique.

In 1969, at age sixteen, Williams was arrested in Inglewood, California for stealing a car and was sent to the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, California. While doing time at the detention center Williams was introduced to weightlifting by the facilities' gym coach. This experience would spark Williams' interest in bodybuilding as he became physically bigger and stronger by the time of his release from custody in early 1971. According to Williams, upon his release from custody, the review board asked him what he planned to do after being released. Seventeen-year-old Williams replied that he planned on "being the leader of the biggest gang in the world."

Founding of the West Side Crips[edit]

Seventeen-year-old Stanley Williams was approached by Raymond Washington in the spring of 1971, at Washington Preparatory High School. Washington was from the East Side of South Central, while Williams was from the West Side of that area. A mutual friend of both young men informed Washington of Williams' toughness and his willingness to fight members of larger, more established street gangs like the L.A. Brims and the Chain Gang (both gangs would later become Bloods sets; The Brims and The Inglewood Family Bloods respectively). According to Williams' account of his initial meeting with Washington, what struck him about Washington was that, besides being incredibly muscular, Washington and his cohort were dressed similar to Williams and his clique (leather jackets with starched Levi's jeans and suspenders). Williams had befriended so many clique leaders and street thugs on the West Side, he and a few others formed what would become the West Side Crips.

The purpose for creating the gang initially was to eliminate all street gangs and create a "bull force" neighborhood watch. Williams said: "We started out—at least my intent was to, in a sense, address all of the so-called neighboring gangs in the area and to put, in a sense—I thought 'I can cleanse the neighborhood of all these, you know, marauding gangs.' But I was totally wrong. And eventually, we morphed into the monster we were addressing."[2] Washington himself has stated that he founded the Crips not with the intention of eliminating other gangs, but to create a force powerful enough to protect local black people from racism, corruption and brutality at the hands of the police.

At the time of the Crips' initial formation there were only three Crip sets: Washington's East Side Crips (later called East Coast Crips), Williams' West Side Crips and the Compton Crips, led by a teenager named Mac Thomas. Washington, Williams and Thomas went on an aggressive and violent recruitment campaign throughout the Black ghettos of Los Angeles. They challenged the leaders of other gangs to one-on-one street fights. Many gang leaders and their members acquiesced and joined the Crips. The few gangs that resisted would later form the alliance known as the Bloods, and would become the Crips' fiercest rivals.

Leader of the West Side Crips[edit]

As leader of the West Side Crips, Williams became the archetype of the new wave of Los Angeles gang members. As others originated, a Crip leader in Brentwood California, named "Armando" had been leading the Crips. With Williams and his best friend, "enforcer" Curtis "Buddha" Morrow, they would engage in random acts of violence against rival gang members and innocent people alike, striking fear in both street criminals and the residents of South Central, Watts, Inglewood and Compton. Perhaps what made his exploits even more legendary was the fact that on numerous occasions the criminal charges ended in disarray. Prosecutors were unable to charge him due to lack of evidence.

As other leaders of the Crips were either murdered or incarcerated, (in 1973 Raymond Washington was arrested for 2nd degree robbery and served five years in prison in Tracy, California and soon after was murdered; Curtis "Buddha" Morrow was shot to death in South Central L.A. on February 23, 1973 following a petty argument; Mac Thomas was murdered under mysterious circumstances in the mid-1970s, although some suspect it was by Scooby Williams, his daughter) Williams was regarded as the leader of the Crips. Around this time Williams lived a dual life as a gang leader as well as a youth counselor in Compton, California, even studying Sociology at Compton College. Despite this he spent his free time participating in numerous violent attacks against the Bloods.

In 1976 Williams was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Compton by members of the Bloods. While sitting on the porch of his house one evening as he'd let his dog out for a walk, a carload of Bloods drove by the house and opened fire on Williams. Attempting to avoid getting hit, Williams dove from the porch and was wounded in both of his legs. Despite being told by doctors that he would never walk again, Williams began a nearly year-long process of physical rehabilitation and an intense workout regimen, ultimately regaining his ability to walk.

Drug use[edit]

Williams began dabbling in street drugs around the age of twelve. As a preteen, Williams befriended a neighborhood pimp who, in return for Williams performing errands for him, would reward Williams with money and drugs—particularly Quaaludes, barbiturates (then known as "Red Devils") or marijuana. After being shot, Williams began smoking PCP.

Williams' personal life began to unravel: His maternal grandmother with whom he was very close died in 1976; he lost his counseling job in 1977 after being implicated in a robbery that was committed by two youths from a group home that Williams supervised; he was denied an opportunity to compete in an amateur bodybuilding contest after it was discovered that he was a gang leader (Williams would later appear on the 1970s variety show The Gong Show performing a posedown routine); and his gangbanger lifestyle was beginning to take a mental toll on him, which included a brief stay in the psychiatric ward of a hospital after Williams experienced a bad trip while high on PCP. With each of these setbacks, Williams found himself using PCP more and more. To support his drug habit and obtain PCP, Williams would intimidate and/or rob drug dealers in South Central L.A.. Williams' addiction to PCP would prove to be his undoing.


In 1979 Williams was convicted of murder in two separate incidents. Williams always maintained his innocence, though subsequent court reviews concluded that there was no compelling reason to grant a retrial.

Court transcripts state that Williams met with a man identified in court documents only as "Darryl" late on Tuesday evening, February 28, 1979.[3] Williams introduced Darryl to a friend of his, Alfred Coward, a.k.a. "Blackie," a reference to his dark-colored skin and to Bernard Trudeau, a.k.a. "Whitie," his Caucasian friend.

A short time after the initial meeting, Darryl, driving a brown station wagon and accompanied by Williams, drove to the home of James Garret, where Williams frequently stayed and kept some possessions, including a 12-gauge shotgun. After about 10 minutes inside, Williams returned with the shotgun.

The three men then went to the home of Tony Sims in Pomona, California, where they discussed possible locations to obtain money. Afterward, they went to another residence, where Williams left the others awhile. Williams returned with a .22-caliber pistol, and placed it in the station wagon. Darryl and Williams entered the station wagon, Coward and Sims entered another vehicle, and then embarked on the freeway.

Botched robbery[edit]

Both vehicles exited the freeway in the vicinity of Whittier Boulevard, where they drove to a nearby Stop-N-Go market. Darryl and Sims, at the request of Williams, entered the store with the apparent intention of robbing it. Darryl was carrying the .22 pistol that Williams had deposited in the station wagon earlier. Darryl also had a rifle in the trunk of the car, along with two semi-automatic handguns.

The clerk at the Stop-N-Go market, Johnny Garcia, had just finished mopping the floor when he observed a station wagon and the four men at the door to the market. Two of the men entered the market. One of the men went down an aisle while the other approached Garcia.

The man that approached Garcia asked for a cigarette. Garcia gave the man a cigarette and lit it for him. After approximately three to four minutes, both men left the market without carrying out the planned robbery.

The 7-Eleven murder[edit]

Transcripts show that next Coward and Sims followed Williams and Darryl to the 7-Eleven market located at 10437 Whittier Boulevard, in Whittier, California. The store clerk, 26-year-old Albert Lewis Owens, was sweeping the store's parking lot at 7:42 p.m. When Darryl and Sims entered the 7-Eleven, Owens put the broom and dustpan he was using on the hood of his car and followed them into the store. Williams and Coward then followed Owens into the store. Court records show that as Darryl and Sims walked to the counter area to take money from the register, Williams walked behind Owens, pulled the shotgun from under his jacket and told Owens to "shut up and keep walking."[3]

While pointing the shotgun at Owens’ back, Williams directed him to a back storage room and ordered him to lie down. Coward said that he next heard the sound of a round being chambered into the shotgun. He then heard a shot and glass breaking, followed by two more shots. Records show that he shot at a security monitor and then killed Owens, shooting him twice in the back at point-blank range as he lay prone on the storage room floor.[4]

The Brookhaven Motel murders[edit]

Yen-Yi Yang, 76, and his wife, Tsai-Shai C. Yang, 63, were immigrants from Taiwan. They ran the Brookhaven Motel located at 10411 South Vermont Avenue in South Central Los Angeles with their daughter, Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 43, and son Robert. Yu-Chin had recently joined them from Taiwan.

According to court transcripts, at approximately 5:00 a.m. on March 11, 1979, Stanley Williams entered the Brookhaven Motel lobby and then broke down the door that led to the private office. Inside the office, Williams shot and killed Yen-Yi, Tsai-Shai, and Yu-Chin, after which he emptied the cash register and fled the scene.

Robert, asleep with his wife in their bedroom at the motel, was awakened by the sound of somebody breaking down the door to the motel’s office. Shortly thereafter he heard a female scream, followed by gunshots. Robert entered the motel office and found that his mother, his sister, and his father had all been shot; the cash register was empty.

The forensic pathologist testified that Yen-Yi Yang suffered two close range shotgun wounds, one to his left arm and abdomen, and one to the lower left chest. Tsai-Shai also received two close range wounds, one to the tailbone, and the other to the front of the abdomen, entering at the navel. Yu-Chin Yang Lin was shot once in the upper left face area at a distance of a few feet.

Witnesses testified that Williams referred to the victims in conversations with friends as "Buddha-heads."[5]

Trial and conviction[edit]

Stanley Williams was convicted in 1979 of all four murders with special circumstances on each count of felony murder (robbery) as well as multiple murder in the case of the Brookhaven event. The jury also convicted him of robbery in both cases, and found that he personally used a firearm in the commission of the crimes. The jury returned a verdict of Guilty, and the judge sentenced him to death.[6]

From the beginning of his sentence, Williams maintained his innocence regarding the four murders, alleging prosecutorial misconduct, exclusion of exculpatory evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, biased jury selection, and the misuse of jailhouse and government informants.[7] Williams claimed that the police found "not a shred of tangible evidence, no fingerprints, no crime scenes of bloody boot prints. They didn't match my boots, nor eyewitnesses. Even the shotgun shells found conveniently at each crime scene didn't match the shotgun shells that I owned." However, the prosecution's firearms expert, a sheriff's deputy, testified during trial that the shotgun shell recovered from the Yang murder crime scene matched test shells from the shotgun owned by Stanley Williams. No second examiner verified his findings. The defense claims this expert's methodology was "junk science at best."[8]

Williams' gun was found in the home of a couple with whom he occasionally stayed. According to the District Attorney, the husband was undergoing sentencing for receiving stolen property and tried for extortion. Williams' lawyers have claimed that the District Attorney quashed a murder investigation in exchange for their testimony. The two shells recovered from the Owens crime scene were consistent with shells fired from this gun, with no exclusionary markings. The shell recovered from the Yang crime scene was conclusively matched to Williams' weapon "to the exclusion of all other firearms."[3]

Critics claim that although he renounced gangs and apologized for his role in co-founding the Crips, Williams continued to associate with Crips members in prison. However, when contacted about Williams' alleged ongoing gang activity, Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman April Harding said there was no evidence of his gang leadership. Opponents also pointed out that he received a significant amount of money from outside sources. They stated that people who appreciate Williams' work sent him money. "It's as simple as that," said Williams' spokeswoman Barbara Becnel.[9]

The prosecution removed three blacks from serving as jurors in Williams' trial. Williams' lawyers claimed that he was convicted by a jury that had no blacks, one Latino, one Filipino-American, and 10 caucasians.[10] The District Attorney provided proof, however, in the form of a death certificate and the affidavit of another juror, that juror #12, William James McLurkin, was black.[3] The defense responded that, contrary to the affidavit, McLurkin did not appear black. They maintain that the trial record indicates that none of the lawyers—and particularly the prosecutor—thought McLurkin was black. McLurkin's driver license photo and the fact that both he and his mother were born in the Philippines was presented as additional evidence in a November 2005 petition for clemency. The defense, however, has neither stated whether or not his mother was actually Filipina, nor refuted the evidence that McLurkin was black.[8]

According to the clemency petition, in his closing arguments, prosecuting District Attorney Robert Martin described Williams as a "Bengal tiger in captivity in a zoo" and said that the jury needed to imagine him in his natural "habitat" which was like "going into the back country, into the hinterlands." In a radio interview, Martin insisted that the analogy was not meant to be racial, and instead was a metaphor to the fact that Williams appeared in court dressed in business attire much like an animal in a zoo appears more docile than it would be in the wild.[11]

Williams threatens jurors[edit]

In the Court of Appeal summary of the case, Williams stated that various jurors misconstrued as a threat a question that he asked defense counsel at the close of the guilt phase. The trial record shows that after the jurors returned their guilty verdicts, Williams said, "Sons of bitches" in a voice sufficiently loud that the court reporter included it in the trial transcript. "On the day that the jury began its penalty-phase deliberations, an alternate juror reported to the bailiff that he was going to get all of them."[12][13](], §212 et. cie.)

Prison life[edit]

As inmate CDC# C29300 at San Quentin State Prison Williams spent 6 years in solitary confinement in the late 1980s for multiple assaults on guards and fellow inmates.[3][14][15] According to a classification report found on page 8 of filings by his lawyers during the clemency proceedings dated August 5, 2004, Williams had no violations since that time.[16]

Challenges to the conviction[edit]


Tookie Williams appealed his conviction in the state courts, and filed a petition in the federal courts for habeas corpus relief. The State courts affirmed the conviction. The lower federal court denied the habeas petition. In 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard Williams' appeal from the lower federal court. The appellate court denied Williams' appeal in 2002, but noted that the federal courts were not his only forum for relief and that he could request clemency from the Governor of California.[citation needed]

Activist response and community reaction[edit]

In late 2005, a campaign began to urge Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant clemency for Williams in consideration of his work as an anti-gang activist. Thousands of people signed online petitions calling for Schwarzenegger to commute the death sentence. In early November 2005, Williams' attorneys filed his formal petition for executive clemency, as well as a motion to obtain new evidence. (See below for the full text of the documents filed in these proceedings.)

The state, through the office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney, opposed the clemency petition. The Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, and other law enforcement groups disputed that Williams had in fact reformed, saying that he refused to divulge on other gang members, or debrief officials on the tactics and communication methods that gangs use. Williams said he didn't want to be a "snitch."[17]

The clemency petition emphasized the theme of Williams' redemption, rather than his claim of actual innocence. At least one commentator felt this strategy was flawed: San Francisco Chronicle writer Bob Egelko noted doubts stated by the courts handling the appeals and quoted Austin Sarat, professor of law and politics at Amherst College in Massachusetts and author of Mercy on Trial, a book about clemency: "It's [actual innocence] about the only ground in which governors grant clemency in the modern period...I know of no case in which a death row inmate has been spared (solely) on the basis of post-conviction rehabilitation."[18]

On December 8, 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger held a clemency hearing. The one-hour, closed-door meeting took place as a crowd consisting of both supporters of Williams and proponents of capital punishment congregated outside the Capitol in Sacramento. Schwarzenegger described the decision whether to grant clemency as "the toughest thing when you are governor, dealing with someone's life."

While the clemency petition was pending before the governor, Williams also filed further appeals in the courts. On November 30, 2005, the California Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, refused to reopen Williams' case.[19] On December 11, 2005, the California Supreme Court denied Williams' request for a stay of execution. Supporters of Williams also made another plea directly to Governor Schwarzenegger to stay the execution.[20]

Also during this period, the media, community organizations, and relatives of the victims were speaking out. In mid-November 2005, talk show hosts John and Ken of the John and Ken Show on Clear Channel's KFI radio in Los Angeles, California started a "Tookie Must Die (For Killing Four Innocent People)" hour on their show daily until the execution of Williams. In the hour, they interviewed advocates of both sides of the issue and expressed their support of the impending execution.[citation needed]

Many anti-death penalty and civil rights organizations around the country organized activist campaigns to stop the execution, including the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the NAACP, A.N.S.W.E.R., and others. Tookie's friend, co-author and political collaborator, Barbara Becnel, helped to spearhead much of the organizing. Celebrities also joined the fight, including Snoop Dogg, who appeared at a clemency rally wearing a shirt advertising the Save Tookie website and performed a song he had written for Williams, and Jamie Foxx, who - noting that Tookie's execution date was his birthday - publicly stated that the only birthday present he wanted was clemency for Williams. Other prisoners were also involved in activism to save Williams's life. Tony Ford, whose death sentence in a disputed case has been indefinitely stayed,[21] helped organize a prisoners' strike in Texas protesting Williams' execution.[citation needed]

On November 29, 2005, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California announced that more than 175,000 Californians had signed a petition requesting the temporary suspension of executions in California until the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice could complete its study,[22] due by December 31, 2007. The "California Moratorium on Executions Act", A.B.1121, was scheduled to have its first hearing in January 2006. Press conferences and rallies in more than a dozen California cities called for a halt to all executions and asked Governor Schwarzenegger to commute Williams’ death sentence to a sentence of life without parole; demonstrations against the death penalty also took place in numerous cities around the world.[citation needed]

On December 8, 2005, Lora Owens, the stepmother of Albert Owens, one of the victims, made a statement expressing her opinion of Stanley Williams: "I think he [Williams] is the same cold-blooded killer that he was then and he would be now if he had the opportunity again."[23] Owens' two daughters, Rebecca and Andrea, who were 8 and 5 when their father was murdered, also opposed clemency and recalled that they were aghast when they had learned that their father's murderer was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.[24]

By contrast, on December 9, 2005, Linda Owens, Albert Owens' widow, issued a statement in support of Williams’ efforts to bring an end to gang violence and his call for peace between gangs: "I, Linda Owens want to build upon Mr. Williams' peace initiative. I invite Mr. Williams to join me in sending a message to all communities that we should all unite in peace. This position of peace would honor my husband's memory and Mr. Williams' work."[25]

The Governor denies clemency[edit]

On December 12, 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger denied clemency for Williams. In his denial, Governor Schwarzenegger cited the following:

  • "The possible irregularities in Williams' trial have been thoroughly and carefully reviewed by the courts, and there is no reason to disturb the judicial decisions that uphold the jury's decisions that he is guilty of these four murders and should pay with his life."
  • The basis of his request for clemency is the "personal redemption Stanley Williams has experienced and the positive impact of the message he sends," yet "it is impossible to separate Williams' claim of innocence from his claim of redemption."
  • "Cumulatively, the evidence demonstrating Williams is guilty of these murders is strong and compelling … there is no reason to second guess the jury's decision of guilt or raise significant doubts or serious reservations about Williams' convictions and death sentence."
  • "Williams has written books that instruct readers to avoid the gang lifestyle and to stay out of prison … (h)e has also … tried to preach a message of gang avoidance and peacemaking … (i)t is hard to assess the effect of such efforts in concrete terms, but the continued pervasiveness of gang violence leads one to question the efficacy of Williams' message."
  • "The dedication of Williams' book Life in Prison casts significant doubt on his personal redemption… the mix of individuals on [the dedication] list is curious … (b)ut the inclusion of George Jackson on the list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems."
  • "Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise? Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not and should not apologize or otherwise atone for the murders of the four victims in this case. Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption. In this case, the one thing that would be the clearest indication of complete remorse and full redemption is the one thing Williams will not do."

Governor Schwarzenegger summarized by basing his denial of clemency on the "totality of circumstances."[26]

Last legal efforts to save Williams[edit]

On the same day the governor denied Williams clemency, Jonathan Harris, a New York counsel with Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, filed a response summarizing new evidence of innocence.[27]

It included reference to an affidavit by Gordon Bradbury von Ellerman attesting to belief in Williams' innocence. Dated December 10, it states that he called the NAACP on December 8 after reading in the Daily Breeze that his cellmate, George Oglesby, had testified against Williams. He states that he had observed Oglesby receive police reports on Williams and others. Mr. Oglesby told Von Ellerman that he was using the documents to testify against Williams and others "to gain a reduction or eliminate charges against him." Von Ellerman also observed Oglesby copying from samples of Williams' handwriting to "create incriminating documents that would appear to be written by Mr. Williams."[28] Prosecutors had cited handwritten notes written by Williams about an escape plan which involved the killing of a bus driver and another accomplice.[3]


San Quentin State Prison, where Williams was incarcerated and executed

On December 13, 2005, after exhausting all forms of appeal, Williams was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison, California. Newsweek reported thousands of protesters outside, most of whom were seeking Williams' clemency. He was the 12th person to be executed by the state following the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Gregg v. Georgia.[citation needed]

Williams provided no last words to the prison warden. In an interview on WBAI Pacifica radio hours before the execution, he stated:[29]

"My lack of fear of this barbaric methodology of death, I rely upon my faith. It has nothing to do with machismo, with manhood, or with some pseudo former gang street code. This is pure faith, and predicated on my redemption. So, therefore, I just stand strong and continue to tell you, your audience, and the world that I am innocent and, yes, I have been a wretched person, but I have redeemed myself. And I say to you and all those who can listen and will listen that redemption is tailor-made for the wretched, and that's what I used to be…That's what I would like the world to remember me. That's how I would like my legacy to be remembered as: a redemptive transition, something that I believe is not exclusive just for the so-called sanctimonious, the elitists. And it doesn't—is not predicated on color or race or social stratum or one's religious background. It's accessible for everybody. That's the beauty about it. And whether others choose to believe that I have redeemed myself or not, I worry not, because I know and God knows, and you can believe that all of the youths that I continue to help, they know, too. So with that, I am grateful…I say to you and everyone else, God bless. So take care."

Witnesses described the mood in the execution chamber as somber, and Williams showed no resistance as he was led into the execution chamber. After Williams was strapped to the gurney, he struggled against the straps holding him down to look up at the press gallery behind him, and to exchange glances with his supporters.

Williams's advocate and editor Barbara Becnel was also a witness to Williams's execution. In the epilogue of Williams's reprinted memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption,[30] Becnel reported that prior to Williams's arrival in the death chamber, he had promised her that "he would find a way to lift his head and smile at me at some point during his execution, no matter what was being done to him. And that is exactly what he did."

Williams then rested his head on the gurney while medical technicians began inserting needles in his veins, although CNN reported the staff had difficulty inserting the needles and the usually-short process took almost 20 minutes.[31]

Contra Costa Times reporter John Simerman added, "They had some trouble with the second I.V., which was in the left arm… Williams, at one point, grimaced or looked almost out of frustration…at the difficulty there…He had his glasses on the whole time. He kept them on, and he kept looking…"

With a look of frustration on his face, Williams angrily asked the technicians, "You guys doing that right?" A female guard whispered to him, and a second guard patted Williams' shoulder as if to comfort him. Williams shed one silent tear but otherwise showed no emotion as he was executed.[32] Members of Albert Owens' family who witnessed the execution were described as stony-faced; however, Lora Owens appeared very upset, according to MSNBC anchor Rita Cosby.

Kevin Fagan, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote a detailed description of the execution:[32]

"This is the sixth one I have seen here at San Quentin, and I have to say this was very different. The most notable thing was that Williams had supporters at the back of the room… Mrs. Becnel was among them, I understand. We could see them, and throughout the last part of the execution—or preparing him when he was still conscious, they gave what looked like black power salutes several times to him, one man and two women. And most strikingly at the end of the execution, as those three were heading out, they yelled, 'The State of California just killed an innocent man!' which is the first time I ever heard any outburst in the death chamber there."

After Williams was pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m. PST (08:35 UTC), several reporters who witnessed the execution held a news conference.[33]


Williams' spokeswoman and co-author, Barbara Becnel, said shortly after Williams's death that she is "now on a mission" to obtain justice for Stanley Tookie Williams.[34] Williams directed Becnel to receive his body and Becnel began making the funeral arrangements.[35]

Becnel reacted to Williams' execution by saying, "We are going to prove his innocence, and when we do, we are going to show that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is, in fact, himself a cold blooded murderer."[36]

Williams' body was laid out for viewing on December 19, 2005 and drew 2,000 mourners.[37] A memorial service was held in Los Angeles on December 20, 2005, where Becnel read his final wishes. Williams' funeral filled the 1,500-seat Bethel AME Church and drew a wide variety of people from current gang members to celebrities and religious leaders.[38] On June 25, 2006, Barbara Becnel and Williams' longtime friend, Shirley Neal, sprinkled his ashes into a lake in Thokoza Park in the city of Soweto, South Africa as Williams had wished.[citation needed]

At his funeral, the last words of Williams echoed from a tape played to mourners, whom he asked to spread a message to loved ones:

"The war within me is over. I battled my demons and I was triumphant."
"Teach them how to avoid our destructive footsteps. Teach them to strive for higher education. Teach them to promote peace and teach them to focus on rebuilding the neighborhoods that you, others, and I helped to destroy."

Rapper Snoop Dogg, himself a former Crip, recited a poem to mourners about the execution:

"It's 9:15 on 12/13 and another black king will be taken from the scene."[39]

Crips Gang member and rapper WC made a reference to the execution of Williams on his album Guilty by Affiliation: "Charles Manson can kill and live to see another day, but if you're black like Tookie they're gonna steal you away."[citation needed]


Travon Williams, the first oldest son by Bonnie Williams-Taylor, whom Williams wed in 1981 before his conviction, was 32 years old at the time of his father's execution. Williams-Taylor talked to her ex-husband by phone that day. "He was great. He said he was at peace with himself and proud of his son," according to Leslie Fulbright, a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.[40] Travon is a married father who owns a home and works for a social services agency in the Los Angeles area, said Barbara Becnel, Stanley Williams' co-author.[41]

Travon was the only family member who spoke at the funeral. He "brought the church to its feet"[42] when he promised to teach Schwarzenegger about redemption. He said, "I feel it's my duty to go on a worldwide campaign to show that redemption is real," he said. The eldest of the three children of Stanley Williams, Julian Alphonse Williams (born to Williams and Mildred Penelope Williams) was raised by a maternal grandmother and maternal aunt in San Diego, California and the Los Angeles County area.

Stanley Williams' other son, Stanley "Little Tookie" Williams, IV, a Neighborhood Crip, was found guilty of shooting a 20-year-old woman to death in an alley off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Williams IV was sentenced to sixteen years in prison for second-degree murder.[43]


Books by Williams[edit]

  • Blue Rage, Black Redemption: A Memoir (Quality Trade) by Stanley Tookie Williams, foreword by Tavis Smiley, epilogue by Barbara Becnel, 2007, (QT) ISBN 978-1-4165-4449-4
  • Blue Rage, Black Redemption: A Memoir (paperback) by Stanley Tookie Williams, 2005, (PB) ISBN 0-9753584-0-5
  • Gangs and Drugs (Williams, Stanley. Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence,) by Stanley Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1997, (PB) ISBN 1-56838-135-2, 24 pages, Reading level: Ages 9–12
  • Gangs and Self-Esteem: Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence (Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence) by Stanley Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1999, (PB) ISBN 0-613-02690-X, 24 pages, Reading level: Ages 4–8
  • Gangs and the Abuse of Power (Williams, Stanley. Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence.) by Stanley Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1997, ISBN 1-56838-130-1, 24 pages, Reading level: Ages 9–12
  • Gangs and Violence (Williams, Stanley. Tookie Speaks Out Against Gangs.) by Stanley Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1997, (PB) ISBN 1-56838-134-4 (HB) ISBN 0-8239-2345-2, 24 pages, Reading level: Ages 4–8
  • Gangs and Wanting to Belong (Williams, Stanley. Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence.) by Stanley Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1997, (PB) ISBN 1-56838-131-X, 24 pages, Reading level: Ages 9–12
  • Gangs and Weapons (Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence) by Stanley Tookie Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1997, (PB) ISBN 1-56838-132-8, 24 pages, Reading level: Ages 9–12
  • Gangs and Your Friends (Williams, Stanley. Tookie Speaks Out Against Gangs.) by Stanley Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1997, (PB) ISBN 1-56838-136-0, 24 pages, Reading level: Ages 4–8
  • Gangs and Your Neighborhood (Williams, Stanley. Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence.) by Stanley Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1997, (PB) ISBN 1-56838-137-9, 24 pages, Reading level: Ages 4–8
  • Life in Prison by Stanley Tookie Williams, Barbara Cottman Becnel, 1998, (PB) ISBN 1-58717-094-9, 80 pages, Reading level: Ages 4–8 (royalties donated to the Institute for the Prevention of Youth Violence)
  • Redemption: From Original Gangster to Nobel Prize Nominee - The Extraordinary Life Story of Stanley Tookie Williams paperback) by Stanley Williams, 2004, (HB) ISBN 1-903854-34-2



  • "Blue Rage – Black Redemption" from the album The Beauty and the Beer performed by Tankard.[45]
  • "Tookie Knows (Interlude)" from the album "Habits & Contradictions" performed by ScHoolboy Q
  • "Tookie Knows II" from the album "Blank Face" performed by ScHoolboy Q


  1. ^ Fortier, Zach (2015-02-09). I Am Raymond Washington. SSP. p. 170. ISBN 0692359877. Retrieved 2015-05-06. 
  2. ^ "A Conversation with Death Row Prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams from his San Quentin Cell". 2005-11-30. Archived from the original on 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Los Angeles County District Attorney's Response To Stanley Williams' Petition For Executive Clemency" (PDF). 2005-11-16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-25. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ ">Schwarzenegger, Arnold. STATEMENT OF DECISION: Request for Clemency by Stanley Williams" (PDF). 12 December 2005. p. 1. 
  6. ^ People v. Williams - Cal Sup Ct (April 11, 1988). Text
  7. ^ "A Conversation with Death Row Prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams from his San Quentin Cell". November 30, 2005. Archived from the original on November 15, 2007. 
  9. ^ KIM CURTIS (November 17, 2005). "Prison officials launch unusual criticism of death row inmate". Associated Press. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "People v. Williams". 751 P.2d 901: 919. 1988. 
  13. ^ Circuit., United States Court of Appeals, Ninth (1 January 2001). "306 F3d 665 Williams v. Woodford". Retrieved 21 October 2016. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Lefevre, Greg (December 4, 2000). "Death row inmate nominated for Nobel Peace Prize". Retrieved 22 September 2009. 
  16. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-25. Retrieved 2006-03-24. 
  17. ^ Del Barco, Mandalit (November 21, 2005). "Facing Execution, Tookie Williams Hopes for Clemency". 
  18. ^ Egelko, Bob (December 7, 2005). "A QUESTION OF EVIDENCE Stanley Tookie Williams' best hope for clemency may depend more on raising doubt about his guilt than on his redemption". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Schwarzenegger Won't Spare Tookie's Life". Fox News. December 12, 2005. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Victim's Family Says No Clemency for Tookie Williams". December 8, 2005. 
  24. ^ Fulbright, Leslie (December 4, 2005). "MEASURE OF A MAN?S LIFE". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "STATEMENT OF DECISION Request for Clemency by Stanley Williams" (PDF). The New York Times. 
  27. ^ Jonathan Harris (December 12, 2005). "Stanley Williams Emergency Stay" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 19, 2006. 
  28. ^ "Declaration of Gordon Bradbury von Ellerman" (PDF). 
  29. ^ "Stanley Tookie Williams: I Want the World to Remember Me for My "Redemptive Transition"". December 13, 2005. 
  30. ^ (Simon & Schuster, November 2007)
  31. ^ "Williams Execution". Archived from the original on December 15, 2005. 
  32. ^ a b Fagan, Kevin (December 14, 2005). "THE EXECUTION OF STANLEY TOOKIE WILLIAMS Eyewitness: Prisoner did not die meekly, quietly". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  33. ^ Their description can be found here
  34. ^ Muhammad, David (December 13, 2005). "Activists: A Peacemaker is Killed". Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  35. ^ Dolan, Maura (December 14, 2005). "Large Funeral Planned for Williams, Friend Says". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  36. ^ Dolan, Maura (November 29, 2005). "Telling His Story to Save His Life". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  37. ^ Sahagun, Louis (December 20, 2005). "A Public Goodbye for Williams". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  38. ^ Richardson, Lisa (December 21, 2005). "Funeral Service Celebrates Williams' Conversion From Violence to Peace". The Los Angeles Times. 
  39. ^ "Tookie Funeral". Archived from the original on December 30, 2005. 
  40. ^ Williams' ashes to be taken to South Africa, SFGate, Tuesday, December 13, 2005
  41. ^ according to Associated Press writer Kim Curtis in November 2005
  42. ^ According to the December 21, 2005 article, "Funeral Service Celebrates Williams' Conversion From Violence to Peace; About 2,000 mourners hear celebrities and friends call the Crips' co-founder's execution a waste and praise his advocacy for children" written by Los Angeles Times staff writer Lisa Richardson
  43. ^ Ben Johnson. Let Tookie Williams Die,, 2005-12-01
  44. ^
  45. ^

External links[edit]

Legal documents[edit]

News articles[edit]

Preceded by
Donald Jay Beardslee
Executions conducted and scheduled in California Succeeded by
Clarence Ray Allen