June 29, 2017

ABA letter to Virginia Gov. McAuliffe asks for consideration of death row inmate Morva’s petition

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2017 — American Bar Association president Linda A. Klein sent a letter to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to express concern regarding the case of death row inmate William Morva, who is scheduled to be executed on July 6.

McAuliffe has a petition for executive clemency for Morva before his office. While the ABA understands that Morva’s guilt in the tragic murders of Derrick McFarland and Corporal Eric Sutphin is not in dispute, there is also significant evidence that Morva has a long history of severe mental illness. It is for that reason that the ABA has concerns about whether the death penalty is appropriate in his case.

While the ABA does not oppose or support capital punishment on the merits, it does have an interest in promoting a fair and accurate justice system and ensuring that the death penalty is not imposed on individuals who do not have the highest culpability for the most serious crimes. It is on this principle that the ABA opposes the execution of individuals with severe mental illness present either at the time of their crime or at the time of their execution.

The evidence suggests that Morva’s severe delusional disorder was present at the time of his crimes and still is present as he is approaching his execution date. The ABA asks Gov. McAuliffe to give full consideration to these issues before deciding whether to grant or deny Morva’s clemency petition.

Read President Klein’s letter here.

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