Back in August 2006, there was a massive manhunt going on in Richmond Virginia for an escaped convict who had murdered a security guard the day before. Sheriff Deputy Eric Sutphin was on duty and cornered the man near the Huckleberry Trail in Blacksburg. He was shot in the face and killed on the spot.
The killer, William Morva, was captured a few hours later, tried and sentenced to death on March 2008. Now, with death hanging over his shoulder and his date with the lethal injection right around the corner, he finds an unlikely supporter in Deputy Sutphin’s daughter, Rachel Sutphin.
Rachel, who is a staunch believer in the abolishment of the death penalty, deeming it inhumane, wrote an email to reporters to convey her stance.
“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.”
William Morva’s lawyers have been trying to claim clemency for their client for years without any luck. They have argued that Morva suffers from “personality disorders”. They say that Morva had escaped custody because he believed his life was in danger. How that leads to two murders beggars belief.
Even UN human rights advocates have gotten into the act and asked the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, to stop the execution. They have expressed reservations saying that Morva’s trial “did not meet fair trial safeguards.”
Facing pressure from many quarters, McAuliffe’s office is seriously considering granting Morva clemency. They say that the application is currently under review.
Interestingly the McAuliffe has stopped one execution before during his tenure. Earlier in April, in a contractual killing case, the accused was granted clemency. As a matter of fact, it is public record that the Democratic Governor himself is personally against the punishment.
On the other side of the fence, many public officials have advised the Governor to uphold the letter of the law. One person who does not want the killer to go free is Deputy Sutphin’s mother, Jeaneen Sutphin.
“I have no hatred for this creature who shot him execution-style. I just want justice for my son,” Jeaneen told reporters outside her house on Wednesday.
With the clock ticking and Morva’s execution scheduled today, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen!