Court to Hear Challenge to Death Penalty Moratorium

Philly. D.A. says Gov. Wolf doesn't have the authority to halt executions.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear Philly D.A. Seth Williams’ challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf’s moratorium on executions, the court said Tuesday.

“In a brief order, the justices said they want to hear arguments about whether they should have taken up the matter at all, along with briefs that lay out the legal issues in the underlying dispute,” AP reports.

The matter is focused on the case of Terrence Williams, a Philly man convicted of a 1984 murder. He was scheduled to be executed Wednesday. Since the death penalty was restored in the state in 1976, however, only three executions have been carried out.

“The governor’s supposed reprieve is flagrantly unconstitutional, and should be declared by this court to be null, void, and absolutely without legal effect,” the district attorney said in a Feb. 18 filing challenging the moratorium.

Wolf’s office says the state grants the governor “clear, unambiguous, and unconditional” power to grant reprieves. No word on when the case will be heard.