Stanley Tookie Williams III (December 29, 1953 – December 13, 2005), was an early leader of the Crips, a notorious American street gang which had its roots in South Central Los Angeles in 1969. In December 2005 he was executed for the 1979 murders of Albert Owens, Yen-Yi Yang, Tsai-Shai Lin, and Yee-Chen Lin.
While in prison, Williams refused to aid police investigations with any information against his gang, and was implicated in attacks on guards and other inmates as well as multiple escape plots. In 1993, Williams began making changes in his behavior, and became an anti-gang activist while on Death Row in California. Although he continued to refuse to assist police in their gang investigations, he renounced his gang affiliation and apologized for the Crips' founding, while maintaining his innocence of the crimes for which he was convicted. He co-wrote children's books and participated in efforts intended to prevent youths from joining gangs. A biographical TV-movie entitled Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story was made in 2004, and featured Jamie Foxx as Williams.
On December 13, 2005, Williams was executed by lethal injection amidst debate over the death penalty and whether his anti-gang advocacy in prison represented genuine atonement.
Born to a 17-year-old mother in New Orleans, Louisiana, Williams moved to the impoverished South Central Los Angeles neighborhood when he was 6, where he made a name for himself for being a fighter and a "general" on the streets of South Central's West Side. He attended John C. Fremont High School, but was expelled and did not graduate. People mistakenly believe that "Tookie" was a nickname, but it was in fact his given middle name, which was shared by Williams and his son, Stanley T. Williams Jr. His nickname was Big Took. He got the name after he became very muscular.
The Baby Avenues were formed by Raymond "Ice" Washington in 1969. Williams joined Washington in 1971, forming the westside faction of what had come to be called the Crips. It was initially started 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."
Williams was convicted of two separate robbery/murders in 1979. Williams always maintained his innocence, though subsequent court reviews concluded that there was no compelling reason to grant a retrial.
Court transcripts state that, Stanley Williams met with a man who is only identified in court documents as "Darryl" late sometime on Tuesday evening, February 27, 1979. Williams introduced Darryl to a friend of his, Alfred Coward, a.k.a. "Blackie," a reference to his African American heritage.
A time after the initial meeting, Darryl, driving a brown station wagon and accompanied by Williams, drove to the home of James Garret. Coward followed the two in his 1969 Cadillac. Williams frequently stayed with Garret, and kept some of his personal effects at that location including a 12-gauge shotgun. Williams went into the Garret residence, and in about ten minutes returned with the shotgun.
The three men then went to the home of Tony Sims, where they discussed where in Pomona, California they could go to make some money. Afterward, they went to another residence, where Williams left the others for a period of time. Upon returning, Williams had a .22 caliber pistol, which he placed in the station wagon. Williams then suggested that they should all go to Pomona. Darryl and Williams got into the station wagon, Coward and Sims got into the Cadillac, and shortly thereafter they were on the freeway headed toward Pomona.
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.
Seferhan, the clerk on duty at the Stop-N-Go at the time, testified that he was just finishing up mopping the floor, and noticed a station wagon, along with four black men standing outside the door of the store. Sims testified that he and Darryl entered the market, after which Sims walked to the back of the store while Darryl approached Garcia and asked for a cigarette. Garcia provided and lit one for him. Sims then "walked back from the back ‘cause there was somebody in there and just walked out the door and got back the car with, uh, Blackie. And then we left."
Williams and fellow gang member Seferhan Brown reportedly became very unhappy that Darryl and Sims did not follow through on the plan. He then told the men that they would find another place to rob, and that they would all go inside so he could demonstrate to them how a robbery was done.
Transcripts show that next Coward and Sims followed Williams and Darryl to the 7-Eleven market located at 10437 Whittier Boulevard, near Whittier, California. The store clerk, twenty-six year old Albert Lewis Owens, was sweeping the store parking lot. 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 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 sawed-off shotgun from under his jacket and told Owens to “shut up and keep walking.”
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 Williams shot out 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.
Williams, Darryl, Coward, and Sims then fled in the two cars and returned home to Los Angeles. They had netted approximately $120 in the robbery. Once back in Los Angeles, Sims asked Williams why he had shot Owens. Williams said that he “didn’t want to leave any witnesses.” Williams also said he killed Owens “because he was white and he was killing all white people.” Coward testified that Williams had bragged about the shooting, stating, “You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him,” as he made gurgling or growling noises and laughed about Owens’ death.
The Yang family, husband seventy-six year old Yen-Yi Yang, and wife sixty-three year old Tsai-Shai C. Yang, were immigrants from Taiwan. They ran the Brookhaven Motel located at 10411 South Vermont Avenue in South Central Los Angeles along with their forty-three year old daughter, Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 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. It was later determined that the Brookhaven incident netted Stanley Williams approximately one hundred dollars.
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 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", a derogatory term for Asians.
Stanley Williams was convicted in 1981 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 recommended the death penalty, and the judge accepted the recommendation and sentenced him to death.
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. 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 or falsified his findings. The Defense claims this expert's methodology was "junk science at best."
Williams' gun was found in the home of a couple with whom he had been living. 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."
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.
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 "ten Caucasians". The District Attorney provided proof, however, in the form of a death certificate and the sworn affidavit of another juror, that juror #12, William James McLurkin, was black. The defense responded that, contrary to the sworn affidavit, McLurkin did not appear black. They maintain that the trial record indicates that none of the lawyers -- and particularly the prosecutor -- thought Mr. 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 Filipino, nor refuted the evidence that McLurkin was black.
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 stated 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.
According to Williams' defense attorneys, in two subsequent cases, District Attorney Robert Martin was censured by the California State Supreme Court for using race as a criterion in jury selection and had two murder convictions overturned on those grounds.
The Court of Appeals 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 this statement 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."
As inmate CDC# C29300 Williams spent 6 1/2 years in solitary confinement in the late 1980s for multiple assaults on guards and fellow inmates. The following is a list of Stanley Williams prison record through 1993. 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. The prison official had observed no gang activity and complimented Williams on his behavior for the last ten years.
* On June 30, 1981, just two months after being sentenced, Williams was involved in a violent fight with another inmate. Williams was observed kneeling over the other inmate and striking him in the head with his closed fists. When Williams was ordered to cease fighting, he ignored the order. Only after repeated orders did Williams stop. (P. Exh. 6).
* On January 26, 1982, Williams was ordered to lineup for his return to his cell. Williams refused the order and became hostile. The guard then explained the line-up procedure to Williams. Williams responded by saying "you'll get yours boy, I can't do anything now because I know what the gunmen will do…one of these days I'll trick you boy." (P. Exh. 7).
* On January 28, 1982, Williams had two separate instances where he threw chemical substances at guards. In one of these instances, Williams threw a chemical substance in the eyes and on the face of a guard. As a result of that assault, the guard suffered from chemical burns to these areas and had to be taken to the hospital where he received emergency care. (P. Exh. 8).
* On January 29, 1982, Williams again attacked a guard by throwing a chemical substance on him. (P. Exh. 9).
* On February 16, 1984, a guard saw Williams bending over another inmate and striking him with his closed fists. In an effort to stop the attack, the guard blew his whistle and drew his weapon. Williams, however, continued to fight. Only after a guard fired a warning shot did Williams stop fighting. (P. Exh. 10).
* On June 8, 1984, Williams was observed participating in inappropriate behavior with a female visitor. When the guard advised the female of the prison policies, Williams became verbally hostile and stated, "you are looking around too much and that's not your job. I have dusted many officers on the street, one more would not make any difference." (P. Exh. 11).
* On July 4, 1986, Williams stepped between a guard and another inmate and began to beat up the inmate. The guard ordered Williams to stop but Williams continued with the assault. Eventually, after gun officers responded, Williams stopped the attack. (P. Exh. 12).
* On October 10, 1988, Williams was involved in a fight that led to him being stabbed by Tiequon Aundray Cox (aka Lil Fee), a Rolling 60s Crips member, and fellow death row inmate. Prison officials subsequently learned that this stabbing was done in retaliation for a September 22, 1988 stabbing of another inmate ordered by Williams. (P. Exh. 13).
* On October 19, 1988, Williams was placed in Administrative Segregation based on his association with the Crips street gang. (P. Exh. 13).
* On December 24, 1991, Williams was involved in another fight with an inmate. Once again, despite being ordered to stop, Williams continued with the assault. Eventually, gun officers responded by firing a round near Williams. After the shot was fired, guards gained control over Williams. (P. Exh. 14).
* On July 6, 1993, a large fight broke out in the shower area. Williams was one of the combatants. A guard ordered the inmates to stop, but the fight continued. After a warning shot was fired, the fighting stopped. Subsequently, a stabbing instrument ("shank") made of sharpened plastic was recovered from where the fight had occurred. (P. Exh. 15).
The prison guards noted that he still remained a member of the Crips gang, "The violations are usually involving batteries on inmates, batteries on staff. But we have also received information that has identified him as an active member of the Crips," Crittendon said. "The particular set is known as the Blue Note Crips, and that information we have received since his arrival here in April 1981 and as recent as June of 2000," Crittendon said.
After being released from solitary confinement, Williams gained world-wide attention and praise for his work in prison. He wrote several children's books advocating non-violence and alternatives to gangs, an autobiography Blue Rage, Black Redemption, public service announcements, and Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story, a Hollywood movie which honored him. Williams' books have not enjoyed strong sales, though they may have been distributed as donations to schools, children's centers, and the like.
In 1997, Williams wrote and posted on his website an apology for his role in creating the Crips. In 2004, he helped broker a peace agreement, called the Tookie Protocol For Peace, for what had been one of the deadliest and most infamous gang wars in the country, between the Bloods and the Crips, in both the state of California and the city of Newark, New Jersey. On the nomination of William A. Harrison, a minister from West Monroe, Louisiana, Williams received a letter from U.S. President George W. Bush commending him for his social activism, one of some 267,000 "Call To Service Awards" that were sent out. However, Bush declined to pardon him, since his conviction could only be pardoned by the governor of the State of California.
Williams was reportedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year from 2001 to 2005. Nominations came from Mario Fehr, a member of the Swiss Parliament and four times by Notre Dame de Namur University Philosophy and Religion Professor Phil Gasper. William Keach, a Brown University Professor of English Literature, nominated Williams for the Nobel Prize in Literature. There are no specific elegibliity requirements for a Nobel Peace Prize, and any college humanities professor or national legislator may make a nomination. Nobel Prize nominees are not announced by the Nobel Committee for a period of fifty years. The Nobel Prize may not be awarded posthumously, therefore Williams is no longer eligible.
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 U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals 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.
In late 2005, a campaign began to urge the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to grant clemency for Williams in consideration of his work as an anti-gang activist and asserted "redemption." Thousands of people signed online petitions calling for Schwarzenegger to commute the death sentence. Those who campaigned against the execution included celebrities, politicians, and Nobel laureates. 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 disputed that Williams had in fact reformed, saying that he refused to divulge information 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."
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."
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 4-2 decision, refused to reopen Williams' cas. 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.
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.
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, 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. See photos of some of the activist events to stop the execution. Also see Execution-eve vigil for photos of the execution-eve vigil held 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, helped organize a prisoners' strike in Texas protesting Williams's execution.
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 due by December 31, 2007. The “California Moratorium on Executions Act”, A.B.1121, is 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.
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." 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.
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."
On December 12, 2005, Schwarzenegger denied clemency for Williams. In his denial, 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."
* A "close look at his post-arrest and post-conviction conduct tells a story different from redemption."
* Williams had written books that instruct readers to avoid the gang lifestyle and to stay out of prison. From 1995 he "tried to preach a message of gang avoidance and peacemaking" … "It 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 and… the mix of individuals on the dedication list is curious" … "but the inclusion of George Jackson on the list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed."
* "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."
Schwarzenegger summarized by basing his denial of clemency on the "totality of circumstances."
That same day, Jonathan Harris, a New York counsel with Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, filed a response, summarizing new evidence of innocence.
It included reference to an affidavit by Gordon Bradbury von Ellerman attesting to belief in Williams' innocence and dated December 10 states that he called the NAACP on December 8 after reading that date in the Daily Breeze that his cellmate, George Oglesby, had testified against Williams. He states that he had observed his cellmate George Oglesby receive police reports on Williams and others from the Sheriff's department. Mr. Oglesby told Von Ellerman that he was using the documents to testify against Williams and others "to obtain 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."
Prosecutors had cited handwritten notes written by Mr. Williams about an escape plan which involved the killing of a bus driver and another accomplice.
Williams requested no last meal and consumed only milk and oatmeal throughout the day. At the time of his execution, he provided no last words to the prison warden.
In an interview on WBAI Pacifica radio hours before the execution, however, he had this to say: “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.”
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 asking for clemency. He was the 12th person to be executed by the state since California reinstated the death penalty in 1992.
After Williams was declared dead at 12:35 a.m. PST (08:35 UTC), several reporters who witnessed the execution held a news conference. Their description can be found here.
An unnamed reporter at the execution said that Williams showed no resistance, neither when he came into the chamber shortly after midnight, nor after he was strapped onto the gurney.
According to CNN, the staff had difficulty inserting the needles. The process which should take only a few minutes instead took about 20 minutes.
Added Contra Costa Times reporter John Simerman, "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…"
A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Kevin Fagan said, "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… Ms. 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."
Fagan later wrote a detailed description of the execution.
Witnesses described a somber mood in the execution chamber. Williams apparently exchanged many glances with his supporters. He talked with his guards throughout the process. Members of Albert Owens' family who witnessed the execution were described as stony-faced. Lora Owens appeared very upset, according to MSNBC anchor Rita Cosby.
Williams’ spokeswoman and co-author, Barbara Becnel, said shortly after Williams's death that she is "now on a mission." "That mission is one: to obtain justice for Stanley Tookie Williams by proving beyond a shadow of a doubt his innocence, (and) continuing to preserve the incredibly remarkable legacy of this man who personifies redemption." Williams directed Becnel to receive his body, and Becnel began making the funeral arrangements.
An archived copy of a Maura Dolan's Los Angeles Times November 29 article on the history of Becnel's efforts on behalf of Williams can be found here.
Williams' body was laid out for viewing on December 19, 2005 and drew approximately 2000 mourners. 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. 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.
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 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."
Travon Williams, the older 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," who avoided the gang life, according to Leslie Fulbright, a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Travon is married, a father, owns a home and works for a social services agency in the Los Angeles area, said Barbara Becnel, Stanley Williams' co-author, according to Associated Press writer Kim Curtis in November 2005.
Travon was the only family member who spoke at the funeral. 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 LA Times Staff Writer Lisa Richardson, Williams' son "brought the church to its feet" 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.
Stanley Williams' other son, Stanley "Little Tookie" Williams, Jr., a Neighborhood Crip, was found guilty of shooting a twenty year-old woman to death in an alley off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Williams, Jr. was sentenced to sixteen years in prison for second-degree murder.
In November 2005, the Fontana, California Police Department advised print and television media that a warrant had been issued for a registered sex offender, Lafayette Jones. The police department identified Jones as the son of Stanley Tookie Williams. The defense of Stanley Tookie Williams stated that this was a lie purported by the police department, and in their Reply Petition for Executive Clemency they attached a declaration from Lafayette Jones' mother which declared, under penalty of perjury, that Lafayette was not Stanley Tookie Williams' son.
* "And once I was in solitary confinement, it provided me with the isolated moments to reflect on my past and to dwell upon something greater, something better than involving myself in thuggery and criminality. It had to be more to life than that."
* "The death penalty, it's not a system of justice, it is a system of – a so-called system of justice that perpetuates a, shall I say, a vindictive type of response, a vigilante type of aura upon it. We’re talking about something that is barbaric. We’re talking about something that – it doesn't deter anything. I mean, if it did, then it wouldn't be so many – especially in California, we're talking about over 650 individuals on death row. And if it was a deterrent, this place wouldn't be filled like this."
* "And for anyone to think that murder can be resolved by murdering, it's ridiculous. I mean, we look at all of the wars that we have throughout other countries and other nations, and all it does is – this violence, all it does is engender violence. There seems to be no end, but a continuous cycle, an incessant process of blood and gore that doesn't end. And through violence, you can't possibly obtain peace."
* "In my dreams. In my dreams I've envisioned my liberation many a times. As a matter of fact, I was telling an individual the other day that in my dreams, whenever I run into some albatross or some type of dilemma, I seem to float away from it. And in my mind, that is a sense of freedom. That is a sense of avoiding, eschewing or shunning any type of madness."
* "I've lived a pathetic life, and I believe it was education that helped me to change. It was through education that I was able to create common sense and use reasoning. And it was through this that I developed a conscience that led to my redemption."
* "First and foremost, it's an impossibility to blame one person for the ills of society. That's just like Black people trying to blame one white person for slavery and what followed. That would be ridiculous. But I believe the center of the problem is self-hate, which is a very destructive mechanism that people pick up, because of the conditions not only of society but the morbid mindset of how they look at things."
* "As a youngster growing up, I had the unenviable experience of digesting the most negative stereotypes about Black folks being illiterate, being criminals, being violent, being promiscuous, being indolent, etc. When you're spoon-fed these things on an incessant basis, you eventually morph into those negative stereotypes, unwittingly. That's what happened to me. I became the stereotypes that I was spoon-fed."
* "I don't want anyone to be there. Who would I possibly want to see me die?"
* "I am no longer a man of war. I die a man of peace."
* 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 156838136, 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
* "Stanley 'Tookie' Williams Executed", ABC KGO-TV / Associated Press. December 13, 2005. Retrieved December 13, 2005.
* Leithead, Alistair. "Reformed gang leader awaits death", BBC News. December 1, 2005. Retrieved December 1, 2005.
* Alonso, Alex. "Stanley Tookie Williams, Could be First Gang Member Executed in California", Street Gangs Magazine. October 26, 2005. Retrieved December 8, 2005.
* THE HUTCHINSON REPORT: Why 'Tookie' Williams?
* NAACP Steps Up Efforts to Save Stanley Tookie Williams
* State's high court won't spare Williams
* The Peoples' Clemency Hearing Socialist Worker
* Tookie's Mistaken Identity: On the Trail of the Real Founder of the Crips
* "Hypocrisy Trumps Clemency". The Nation, (December 14, 2005).