UN representatives ask McAuliffe to commute Morva’s sentence


Two human rights experts at the United Nations are adding their voices to the thousands of people who have written, called, and tweeted Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to ask that he commute the sentence of William Morva to life without parole, and call off his execution scheduled for Thursday.

In a news release, UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, and on right to health, Dainius Pūras, said that “We are deeply concerned about information we have received indicating that Mr. Morva’s original trial did not meet fair trial safeguards, which include reasonable accommodation in all stages of the process, and may therefore have breached international standards.”

Morva was sentenced to death in 2008 for the killing of a hospital security guard and a sheriff’s deputy in 2006. He suffers from delusional disorder, a disease that makes him believe things that aren’t true. The jury was never fully informed of the extent of Morva’s mental illness. In fact, trial experts told jurors he simply had “odd beliefs” and that he didn’t suffer delusions. (Just before he was sentenced to death Morva told the court he was renouncing his “slave name” and was now to be called “Nemo.”)

In fact, Morva’s mental illness is so extreme, his attorney Dawn Davison, hasn’t met with him in almost five years. “I began representing William in 2009, and for years he did communicate with me and accepted my visits,” she says. “Over time, though, he came to believe that I was working against him. It’s been more than two years since he accepted a visit from any of his attorneys because he believes we are purposely botching his legal case so he will die. He believes we’re in collusion with government agents. He just doesn’t trust us. So from his perspective, why would he meet with someone who is trying to harm him? This is a pattern he has repeated with friends and family members. As he learned people believed him to be mentally ill, he shut them out.”

Newspapers including the Washington Post, the LA Post Examiner, and magazines including U.S. News & World Report are also calling on the governor to commute Morva’s sentence. You can add your voice by doing one or all of the following:

Send an email: clemencyva@gmail.com
Sign the Mercy for Morva petition on change.org
Tweet at @GovernorVA and @TerryMcAuliffe
Call 804-786-2211 and leave a message

You might also be interested in...

Arizona governor and state Supreme Court in a showdown over executions

(Update: Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Arizona Supreme Court ended a standoff over the execution of Aaron Gunches on...
Read More

While we’re on the subject. . . 

“It is not for nothing that some critics refer to it as the ‘criminal legal system.’ The word ‘justice’ must...
Read More

Crossing the River Styx: The Memoir of a Death Row Chaplain

“I was haunted by Russ before I even knew him. I tried to wrap my mind around what it was...
Read More