Gov. McAuliffe: 'We're going to fix it' after restoring rights to violent felons still in prison

Published: Jun. 3, 2016 at 3:08 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2016 at 10:03 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia Republicans are calling Governor Terry McAuliffe "reckless" after reports show several violent felons have had their civil rights restored, even though they don't meet the criteria.

Some are still in prison or are on supervised probation, including some high-profile killers.

Governor McAuliffe is responding to his critics. McAuliffe told news crews there were data entry mistakes, and it's being fixed right now.

This all came to light when two northern Virginia Commonwealth's attorneys, Jim Plowman from Loudoun County and Jim Fisher of Fauquier County, started running names after McAuliffe restored the rights to more than 206,000 violent and non-violent felons.

They found some people should not be in the database.

They say Daniel Harmon Wright, the former Culpeper deputy convicted of killing a woman in 2012 and is on active probation supervision, had his rights restored. He's not the only one.

"We've only hit the tip of the iceberg here," says Plowman.  He gave other names including:

  • Michael Quintana who has a lengthy criminal history but did serve his time.  However, Plowman says he is currently charged with felony firearm possession and brandishing and was, "...sitting in the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center..." when his rights were restored.
  • Joshua Testa, who technically meets the governor's criteria because, after 20 convictions, his time has been revoked, but Testa is now accused of stabbing his brother and is currently in jail awaiting trial.
  • Carlos Cerda Maquin, who got his rights back even though he was convicted of sexually abusing a little girl and is currently deported. "He is currently deported back to Peru and the governor's website says he has been granted restoration," says Plowman
  • Michael Hargrave, who is a convicted sex offender and Plowman says does not meet the governor's criteria because he is on active supervised probation until 2023.

"It's incredibly reckless," said House Speaker Bill Howell (R- 28th District). "This exceeds even our worse fears about the governor's executive order."

Governor McAuliffe said these were clerical errors, that are being fixed right now.

"We're going to fix it," he said. "This list will be continually updated, but let me be clear: I did this for the morally right reason to do, and this is a work in progress.  We're going to continue and the Secretary of the Commonwealth's team has been
working overboard to make sure we get everything right."

The governor says other states have worked through the same issues.

"The actions I took, I remind you, put us in place with 40 other states our doing so this is not unique," he said.  "We're talking about a handful of folks out of 206,000."

Six Republicans are challenging the executive order in a lawsuit, including House Speaker William J. Howell and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr..

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