Gov. McAuliffe commutes sentence of death row inmate

Gov. McAuliffe commutes sentence of death row inmate

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor McAuliffe announce Thursday afternoon that he has commuted the sentence for a man scheduled for execution next week.

Ivan Teleguz was set to die Tuesday after he was convicted of ordering his ex-girlfriend's murder in Harrisonburg. The governor faced mounting pressure to grant Teleguz clemency.

The governor says there were critical mistakes made during the sentencing phase of Ivan Teleguz' trial and the justice system failed.

Teleguz had petitioned the governor for either a full pardon or a commutation of his death sentence. McAuliffe says he believes the jury was correct when it convicted Teleguz of hiring a hitman to kill his ex girlfriend, Stephanie Sipe in July 2001. Because of that, McAuliffe denied a full pardon.

During the sentencing phase of the trial, the jury was given false information that Teleguz was involved in another murder and, for that reason, he was too dangerous to let live. Turns out, that murder was made up and never occurred.

Also during sentencing, the jury was told Teleguz was so evil he would come after them. The jury was falsely told Teleguz would have access to their phone numbers and addresses.

The governor says all of that misinformation discredits the jury's death sentence.

"I don't know what that jury would have done had they not had that information," said McAuliffe. "I don't, none of us do.  But just raising that question - I cannot see this man put to death."

The commutation is very rare. It's the first in Virginia since 2008. McAuliffe says Teleguz will spend life in prison without parole.

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