Time is running out to halt Morva's execution

Updated: Jul. 5, 2017 at 6:14 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Terry McAuliffe is deciding if the state will execute convicted killer, William Morva.

"I have to, as Governor, enforce the laws on the books of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I personally do not support the death penalty, but I took the oath of office. But if there are reasons that something happened during the trial phase or other issues, I look at that very carefully," McAuliffe said on Wednesday.

Morva is a Chesterfield-native and was convicted of a double-murder during an escape attempt, 11-years-ago.

National Alliance for Mental Illness representative, Robert Reed, said, "Mr. Morva has a severe delusional disorder."

Mental health experts and politicians insisted Governor McAuliffe commute William Morva's death sentence to life in prison without parole. On Wednesday, McAuliffe's team considered the severity of Morva's mental illness.  In 2007, he was deemed mentally stable to stand trial.

On Your Side Investigator Rachel DePompa covered the case as it unfolded when she was a reporter for WDBJ in Roanoke. In a report from 2006, DePompa said, "at some point, Morva asked to use the bathroom -- now this is the part that's really under investigation -- Hall says, Morva somehow ripped a toilet paper dispenser out of the wall, it still had the screws on it, and he used it as a weapon on the deputy."

Court records show Morva then stole that deputy's firearm and ran for the door. 26 year old hospital security guard, Derrick McFarland, ran to help the deputy, but Morva shot and killed him.  Morva escaped and all of Montgomery County was on alert.

"Right now, Tech officials are asking students to stay in their dorm rooms," said DePompa, as she reported live from the Virginia Tech campus. The day after the escape, Montgomery County Corporal Eric Sutphin jumped on his bicycle to investigate a tip about a Morva sighting.

On Wednesday, DePompa recalled the coverage from a decade ago.

"He was going down this trail called the Huckleberry Trail and, it came out in court, that William Morva came up behind him and fired one shot into the back of his head, execution-style.  He never saw it coming," said DePompa.

Deputies found Morva hours later, hiding in weeds and brush.  DePompa covered his pre-trial hearings in 2007.

"We were right behind him and he would turn around and make gestures at us," DePompa remembered. "He would point at us, he would talk to himself in the middle of the proceedings and what was going on, he was very wide eyed. We asked ourselves, 'Is he trying to be mentally unstable, or is he mentally unstable?'  I got a distinct feeling that something was not right. I don't see someone holding that act up for that long."

The fine line between civilized justice for the mentally ill and a convicted cop killer.

The governor could very well make an announcement on Wednesday night or Thursday. If the governor doesn't act, then Morva will be executed Thursday night.

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