Virginia Executes Man Who Killed 2 During Escape

Mental health advocates tried to save William Morva
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 7, 2017 12:47 AM CDT
Virginia Executes Man Who Killed 2 During Escape
In this Tuesday March 4, 2008 photo, William Morva listens to court proceedings in Washington County Circuit Court in Abingdon, Va.   (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool, File)

A Virginia man who killed a hospital security guard and a sheriff's deputy after escaping from custody in 2006 was executed Thursday after an unsuccessful campaign to spare his life over concerns about his mental health. William Morva, 35, was pronounced dead at 9:15pm after a lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center. The execution came hours after Virginia's Democratic governor announced that he would not spare Morva's life despite pressure from mental health advocates, state lawmakers, and attorneys who said the man's crimes were the result of a severe mental illness that made it impossible for him to distinguish between delusions and reality, the AP reports.

In denying a clemency petition, Gov. Terry McAuliffe concluded Morva received a fair trial. Morva was awaiting trial on attempted robbery charges in 2005 when he was taken to the hospital to treat an injury. There, he attacked a sheriff's deputy with a metal toilet paper holder, stole the deputy's gun, and fatally shot unarmed security guard Derrick McFarland in the face before fleeing. A day later, Morva killed another sheriff's deputy, Eric Sutphin, with a bullet to the back of the head. Experts who examined Morva for his trial said he suffered from personality disorders that resulted in "odd beliefs." After his trial, a psychiatrist diagnosed him with delusional disorder, a more severe mental illness akin to schizophrenia. (More Virginia stories.)

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