Scott Panetti is a poster child for advocates who argue against the death penalty for the mentally ill. A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, during his trial more than 20 years ago, he waived his right to counsel and attempted to call the pope, John F. Kennedy and Jesus Christ as witnesses.
William Morva, 35, was put to death for murdering an unarmed security guard and a deputy sheriff during an escape. Lawyers argued that the jury did not know of his serious mental illness but Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Morva “did not suffer from any condition that would have prevented him from committing these acts consciously and fully understanding their consequences.”
Rachel Sutphin, a daughter of the sheriff’s deputy killed by William Morva, asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to stop Morva’s scheduled execution tomorrow. Supporters of the clemency campaign say the jury that sentenced Morva to death was not informed of his severe mental illness.
William Morva is scheduled to die by lethal injection on July 6. A clemency petition pending with Gov. Terry McAuliffe contends that the jury that convicted him was not presented with full evidence of his mental illness.
Texas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Oklahoma have accounted for 90 percent of the 122 executions carried out in the U.S. over the past three years. One expert says criminal justice processes and incentives make those states capital punishment outliers.
Escapees Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe were denied bail at arraignment in Georgia on Wednesday following their return from Tennessee, where they were apprehended last week. They are accused of killing two prison officers during their escape.