VA Executes Murderer After Gov Denies Clemency

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Virginia executed William Morva last night for the murders of an unarmed security guard and a deputy sheriff during an escape in in 2006, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Morva, 35, whose lawyers said suffered from a chronic psychotic disorder, was pronounced dead at 9:15 p.m. In 2006, while in jail awaiting trial on attempted robbery and other charges, Morva was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. He assaulted a deputy who was escorting him, knocking him unconscious and taking his handgun. Morva encountered Derrick McFarland, 32, a hospital security guard, and shot him in the face. The next day Morva shot Eric Sutphin, 40, a deputy sheriff who was searching for him, in the back of the head.

In a clemency petition to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Morva’s lawyers argued that the jury did not know of his serious mental illness, diagnosed by a forensic psychiatrist years after his trial. McAuliffe said Morva’s pre-trial diagnoses by experts were valid, and that the jury considered them and nevertheless sentenced Morva to death. “These experts thoroughly evaluated Mr. Morva and testified to the jury that, while he may have personality disorders, he did not suffer from any condition that would have prevented him from committing these acts consciously and fully understanding their consequences,” said the governor. He added, “We also consulted with the Department of Corrections, whose mental health staff have monitored him weekly and assessed him quarterly for the past nine years and have never reported any evidence of delusional disorder or severe mental illness.”

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