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McAuliffe says he will not halt William Morva's execution

Execution scheduled for 9 p.m.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced on Thursday afternoon that he will not halt William Morva's execution.

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

"It is the hardest part of my job. To be honest with you I didn't sleep a wink last night thinking about it. This is a very very very tough decision. As governor, I've got to enforce the law. I want to be consistent in every one of these that I have looked at to make sure I'm doing the exact same thing I did before enforcing the law," said McAuliffe.

Morva's lawyers say Morva was under the influence of delusions when he killed a hospital security guard and a Montgomery County sheriff's deputy during an escape in 2006. They 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.

According to a documentary from the Mercy for Morva website, friends think he suffers from a delusional disorder and his crimes were beyond his control.

Commonwealth's Attorney for Montgomery County Mary Pettitt provided this statement to WSLS 10:

"After applying the same attention and deliberation given by the jury to this case, the Governor reached the same conclusion as the jury - William Morva knowingly and deliberately over a two day period killed two men and left another for dead. I appreciate the Governor's acknowledgement that whether or not you believe in the death penalty it is the law of our Commonwealth and that as government officials we have taken an oath to uphold the laws enacted by the lawfully elected representatives of the people.  I will continue to pray for the families and friends of the victims, the jurors who rendered the verdict, and the family of Mr. Morva all of whom were affected by this senseless tragedy."

Recent changes to the state's protocol mean that if Morva is executed, he would remain shielded from the view of his attorney and media witnesses until after he has been restrained and IV lines have been inserted.

Execution witnesses used to watch inmates walk into the chamber and be restrained.

A curtain would then be closed so witnesses don't see the placement of the IV and heart monitors reopened so the execution could begin.

The change has drawn fire from defense attorneys and transparency advocates.


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