Washington Post Joins In Campaign To Stop July 6th Execution Of Delusional Man

6-30-17) I’m thrilled to announce The Washington Post editorial board has urged Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to stop the July 6th execution of a 35 year-old man with mental illness.

Virginia’s governor still has time to save a mentally ill man from execution

  of The Washington Post

ON JULY 6, Virginia is scheduled to carry out its third execution under Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and 113th since 1976. The inmate, William C. Morva, was convicted of fatally shooting two men — a deputy sheriff and a hospital security guard — in 2006. His guilt is not in question. What is less clear is if jurors would have sentenced him to death had they been aware of the true extent of his mental illness.

At varying points, Mr. Morva reportedly believed that he was meant to lead a distant indigenous tribe; that he was gifted with special powers to carry out an unidentified quest; that he was unjustly persecuted by local officials and the administration of President George W. Bush; and that his real name was “Nemo,” which is Latin for “nobody.” These are not signs of a rational mind, but rather one afflicted with debilitating mental illness. Mental health experts who assessed him after his conviction diagnosed him with delusional disorder, a serious psychotic condition similar to schizophrenia.


We have previously written that capital punishment is dehumanizing. But the execution of a man suffering from severe mental illness is an act of particular barbarism — especially if his condition may have been misdiagnosed in trial. According to Mr. Morva’s attorneys, the mental-health experts who provided statements to the jury did not receive his full case history and diagnosed him with a personality disorder rather than psychosis.Despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, Mr. McAuliffe is committed to upholding Virginia law, a stance we understand and respect. He commuted a death sentence in April, however, after he found flaws in the sentencing process of Ivar Teleguz. His predecessors — former governor James Gilmore III and now- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — had granted clemency on grounds of mental illness. Mr. Morva’s case raises many of the same questions and adds fodder to the national effort to abolish capital punishment for people with serious mental illnesses.


(His defense team, Dawn Davison and Rob Lee, with the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, and Jon Sheldon, have created a persuasive website called Mercy For Morva to enlist the public’s help in pushing for a commutation.  In an email, Attorney Davison wrote:

First & foremost, we are asking people to call the Governor (804-786-2211) and ask him to commute William’s sentence and ensure he receives appropriate medical treatment. People can also email the Governor using this link on his website: Email the GovernorWe have a Change.org petition we are asking people to sign as well. People can follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Liking and sharing our posts will help us get the word out. Finally, we have a website with more information about William, videos, and links to all the above information: www.MercyForMorva.com )

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.