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California Officials Appeal for Calm as Execution Draws Near

Convicted killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection in just a few hours (3:01 am EST), after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down a clemency request, Monday, and state and federal courts refused to block the execution. Supporters and opponents of the death penalty held vigils throughout California, Monday evening.

Tookie Williams was cofounder of the notorious Crips street gang and, in 1981, he was convicted of the brutal murders of four people, who were killed in the course of two robberies.

Governor Schwarzenegger reviewed documents from the case and said he found no reason to believe that the convict was not guilty. He added that Williams had shown no evidence of remorse for his crimes.

Tookie Williams maintained his innocence and refused to apologize for crimes he said he did not commit. His supporters argued that testimony in the case was unreliable and said, regardless of his past, Tookie Williams was a changed man. During his time in prison, he had coauthored several children's books warning youngsters of the dangers of gangs.

Late Monday, the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the case. As hope ran out for supporters, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson addressed the news media outside San Quentin prison, where he spoke with William hours before the scheduled execution.

"One of his lasting requests when we talked, and I'm going back to see him just now, was that there be no violence reaction to the worst decision that could come down," he said.

In Los Angeles, local officials also urged calm.

The city's residents were divided, as were many in the state, over the question of whether clemency should be granted. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton was glad it was not.

"He's been convicted of four murders," said Chief Bratton. "God knows what else he's been involved in his life. He's shown no remorse for those murders."

No California governor has granted clemency to a death-row inmate since 1967, when then-Governor Ronald Reagan called off the execution of a convicted killer who was mentally impaired.