Va. Gov. McAuliffe won’t stop execution plan

Terry McAuliffe
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Latest on Thursday evening’s scheduled execution in Virginia (all times local):

Virginia’s Democratic governor says he won’t spare the life of an inmate whose lawyers say was under the influence of delusions when he killed two men during an escape in 2006.

A statement issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office said he has declined a clemency petition in the case of 35-year-old William Morva, who is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 9 p.m. EDT Thursday. The statement says the governor didn’t find a substantial enough reason to intervene.

Morva’s attorneys have said the man suffers from a profound mental illness that made him believe his life in jail was in danger when he went on the killing spree. Morva’s attorneys said jurors weren’t aware how severe his mental illness was before they sentenced him to death.

Jailed in 2005 on accusations that he tried to rob a convenience store, Morva was taken to a hospital to treat an injury. There, he attacked a sheriff’s deputy, stole the deputy’s gun and shot an unarmed security guard before fleeing. A day later, Morva shot another sheriff’s deputy and was later found in a ditch with the deputy’s gun nearby.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There are last-minute calls Wednesday to spare the life of a Virginia man convicted of killing two people more than a decade ago.

William Morva is scheduled to be executed Thursday night, but his attorney is hopeful Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Virginia) will step in.

“I know his family is really praying that the governor grants clemency and I know that they’re very hopeful,” said Morva’s attorney Dawn Davison.

Davison said, as of Wednesday evening, at least two dozen state lawmakers have written to the governor asking him to instead give Morva life in prison without the possibility of parole.

William Morva’s attorney Dawn Davison

Two United Nations human rights experts have joined in on the growing support.

On Wednesday, McAuliffe said he personally does not support the death penalty, but he took the oath of office and must enforce the laws of the commonwealth. He is still reviewing the case.

“If there are reasons that something happened during the trial phase or other issues, I look at that very carefully,” he said.

Davison said Morva’s case is unique because of a severe mental illness that played a direct role in his crimes. She said jurors were not made aware of how bad it was.

“He has a severe psychological illness that’s similar to schizophrenia which clinically prevents him from seeing the world the way healthy people do,” she said.

In 2006, Morva was awaiting trial on attempted robbery charges when we escaped custody and shot and killed two men in Blacksburg.

One was hospital security guard Derrick McFarland. The other was sheriff’s deputy Eric Sutphin.

Sutphin’s daughter, Rachel, said she is against the death penalty and has asked the governor to grant Morva clemency.

Davison said the push to save Morva’s life is not out of disrespect to the lives lost.

“This is a horrible tragedy and nothing that is being done on William’s behalf is meant to minimize what they have experienced,” she said.

The execution is scheduled for 9 p.m. Thursday.

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