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Williams’ life now in governor’s hands

David Kravets Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Lawyers for Stanley Tookie Williams pleaded for his life before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday, five days before the founder of the murderous Crips gang – but now a peace activist – is scheduled to be executed.

The governor is considering pleas echoed by Hollywood actors, death penalty opponents and others, to grant clemency so Williams can continue his work convincing young people to reject violence.

Prosecutors in Thursday’s closed-door clemency hearing, however, told Schwarzenegger that Williams deserves death for four shotgun murders in 1979.

“The evidence in this case is truly overwhelming, and the murders were senseless and very brutal, and Mr. Williams should pay the ultimate penalty for his crimes,” prosecutor John Monaghan said at a news conference after the hearing.

Defense lawyer Peter Fleming Jr. told reporters after the meeting that “Stanley Williams (is) a person worth fighting for.”

Williams’ lawyers say he should be spared because his teachings from behind bars – through a series of books and talks by phone – have convinced youths to avoid gangs.

Schwarzenegger gave each side about 30 minutes to present its case. He has said it will be a difficult decision, which he could make at any point until the moment of execution. He was not expected to rule Thursday, an aide said.

Celebrities also have taken up Williams’ cause.

After meeting with the condemned killer Thursday, actor Jamie Foxx, who portrayed him in a television movie, pleaded for the governor to save his life.

“Don’t kill this guy. Don’t kill him,” Foxx said at a news conference at Oakland International Airport. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”

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