ED GORDON, host:
This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Ed Gordon.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is weighing whether to proceed with the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams or to grant him clemency. Today, the governor is meeting with Williams' attorney and representatives of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Williams, a co-founder of the Crips gang, was convicted of four murders in 1981. NPR's Farai Chideya has this special segment on the campaigns for and against Williams' execution.
FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
Wayne Owens is the brother of the slain convenient store clerk, Albert Owens, one of the four victims Tookie Williams had been convicted of murdering. Owens would like Williams to sign a letter stating that he would not seek parole if clemency is granted. That's a position that puts him at the crossroads of two warring factions, pro and anti-death penalty advocates. Owens says that those who favor the execution refer to him as a coward for not wanting Williams to die; and those opposed to Williams being put to death view him as exploiting his brother's death for personal gain.
Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Owens.
Mr. WAYNE OWENS: Well, I'm glad to be here.
CHIDEYA: So did I accurately represent your position?
Mr. OWENS: Pretty much. This is the last interview I'm doing because everything that I've said anywhere so far has been spun to fit the agenda of the people interviewing. I have been called at all hours of the day and night and most of the conversations begin with, `Well, we want to get a word from somebody on your side of the issue.' They immediately believe that my side is whatever their agenda is.
CHIDEYA: So explain to me why you are advocating clemency without a possibility of parole. What does that mean to you?
Mr. OWENS: When I wrote my letter about clemency to the governor and said that I do not believe after following this case for almost a quarter of a century that Mr. Williams' lawyers will ever stop before they get him out. Clemency is just the beginning. I said, `If that is the case, then I cannot be for clemency because I do not believe that Mr. Williams on the street will enhance America.' I do believe that there's a possibility and it's just that, a possibility, that he is doing some good where he is, but there's no guarantee that that would continue to be were he free.
CHIDEYA: Tookie Williams has said that he is innocent of these crimes, although he's been convicted. Does it hurt you personally or hurt members of your family that he has never admitted responsibility and that he's never apologized?
Mr. OWENS: Well, I would not expect him to admit it, whether he did it or not. I mean, that's not my judgment. He will have the ultimate judgment at the same time all of us do. And if Mr. Williams is innocent of these crimes, then maybe we'll meet up in the next world and he can tell me there.
CHIDEYA: Do you believe that the governor will grant clemency or not? Just your personal gut opinion.
Mr. OWENS: I believe that it's going to be a political opinion and have nothing to do with justice either way. It will be a sad day either way. And because it's politics, I have no confidence in it because our government has gone from a democracy to a political society and politics is to governance what puppetry is to dance. They have nothing to do with each other.
CHIDEYA: Wayne Owens is the brother of the slain convenience store clerk Albert Owens, one of the four victims Tookie Williams has been convicted of murdering. And we thank you so much for granting us some of your time.
Mr. OWENS: Thank you.
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