Former gang leader Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams has been executed in the US. After 24 years on Death Row for the murder of four people, Williams was put to death by lethal injection this morning.
There had been national and international appeals for clemency as he had spent years in prison campaigning against gang violence.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected final appeals to spare his life.
He and others said his continued protestations of innocence negated any claim that he had redeemed himself. “Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption,” the former actor said.
Journalists who witnessed the execution say it took longer than normal because of apparent difficulties in inserting needles into Williams’ veins.
The case has generated widespread interest and fierce debate over the death penalty in the US because Williams had written a series of books warning young people against gangs.
Some 2,000 opponents of the death penalty had gathered outside the gates of San Quentin prison in the hours leading up to the execution. The execution in California came just over a week after a double murderer became the 1,000th prisoner to be executed in the United States since capital punishment was reintroduced in 1976.