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Victim’s daughter issues plea to McAuliffe to halt execution of William Morva

RICHMOND, Va. – The daughter of a Montgomery County deputy killed by William Morva is asking Governor Terry McAuliffe to halt his execution scheduled for Thursday, July 6.

Rachel Sutphin, daughter of Eric Sutphin, wrote:

"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."

Eric Sutphin, a veteran Montgomery County deputy, was shot in the back of the head during a massive manhunt for Morva in 2006.

In August of 2006, Morva was an inmate at the Montgomery County Jail, awaiting charges on charges of burglary and attempted robbery.

Eric Sutphin

During a visit to the hospital for treatment, Morva overpowered the guard who was escorting him. During the escape, Morva fatally shot Derrick McFarland, a hospital security guard.

The next morning, Morva shot and killed Sutphin who attempted to capture him. That same day, Morva was captured.

A jury sentenced him to death in March of 2008 for the capital murder of a police officer. Since then, his attorneys have argued that Morva suffers from a serious delusional disorder.

His attorneys say he had no previous record of violence before these incidents.

“Prior to his trial, Mr. Morva was misdiagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, a condition characterized by “odd beliefs,” and considered substantially less severe than delusional disorder,” they wrote.

William Morva

Morva’s attorneys said the jurors who sentenced Morva to death “did not know the truth” about his mental state.

“Relying on a comprehensive investigation of Mr. Morva’s history, mental health experts have determined that Mr. Morva has suffered for years from delusional disorder, a condition in which a person steadfastly believes and acts in accordance with ‘realities’ that are not true,” they wrote.

His attorneys have asked McAuliffe to commute the sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On Wednesday, the United Nations also called for the execution to be halted.

In a released statement, they highlighted Mr. Morva’s diagnosis of delusional disorder and stated: “We are deeply concerned about information we have received indicating that Mr. Morva’s original trial did not meet fair trial safeguards.”

They added they were also concerned about Mr. Morva’s “deteriorating psychosocial condition” in detention.

Virginia legislators –13 delegates and five senators — also petitioned the governor to grant clemency.

McAuliffe is Morva's last hope, after the Supreme Court decided not to intervene earlier this year.

Morva is scheduled to die at 9 p.m. Thursday at Greensville Correctional Facility in Jarratt, by lethal injection.