As Virginia is set to execute a mentally ill inmate convicted of killing Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy Cpl. Eric Sutphin and hospital security guard Derrick McFarland, in 2006 in Blacksburg, Virginia, calls for clemency have been rising.
William Charles Morva is scheduled to be executed July 6. He was sentenced to death May 23, 2008. However, his lawyers argued Morva should be spared since he suffered from a serious mental illness, which was also confirmed by the doctors, reports said.
Morva’s lawyers had filed a clemency petition with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe stating their client suffered from mental problems and his death sentence should be lowered to life in prison without the possibility of parole. “At the time of the crimes he was suffering from a severe mental illness, delusional disorder, and his delusions led to his crimes,” Morva’s lawyers wrote in the petition.
However, McAuliffe has not yet issued any statement on the same.
Since the mercy petition was filed, several local and international groups, as well as a number of lawmakers, have urged McAuliffe to halt Morva’s execution.
The United Nations on Wednesday called for Morva’s execution to be halted, WTVR reported. In a statement released Wednesday, the U.N. said: “We are deeply concerned about information we have received indicating that Mr. Morva’s original trial did not meet fair trial safeguards.” The United Nations also expressed concern on “Morva’s deteriorating psychosocial condition.”
According to Richmond Times-Dispatch, the daughter of one of Morva’s victims wrote an email to the media Wednesday, saying she was against the death penalty and sought mercy for Morva.
In the email, Rachel Sutphin, daughter of Eric Sutphin, wrote: "I am against the death penalty for religious and moral reasons. I have fought and will continue to fight for clemency for all death row inmates until Virginia declares the death penalty unconstitutional. I have sent my own letter to the governor showing my support for clemency.”
Te National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) too have sought clemency for Morva.
“While Morva's crimes were horrific, there is strong evidence that they were the product of his delusional symptoms and that without these symptoms, it is highly unlikely that he would have shot the officers,” NAMI said, NBC News reported.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt, urged McAuliffe not to intervene in Morva’s case, saying it was ‘absurd’ to believe what the medical experts testified at the previous trials. She also accused the medics of misdiagnosing Morva and misleading the jurors, the report added.
“Two bedrocks of our judicial system are the right to have a jury decide a defendant's guilt or innocence and the right to have a fair trial. Mr. Morva has had both,” she wrote to the governor.
“The fairness of his trial has been reviewed, and reviewed, and reviewed with all courts, both state and federal, finding no unfairness or basis to overturn the voice of that jury. So the issue before you is real whether or not you individually are going to override that jury's voice and undermine our judicial system,” she further stated.
Morva is set to die Thursday by a lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center unless McAuliffe steps in and halts his execution.