Barring a phone call from Governor McAuliffe, William Morva (pictured) — a mentally ill man with delusional disorder — will die in Virginia’s death chamber this evening.
The raw political calculus is just mindblowing. From McAuliffe’s press statement:
I personally oppose the death penalty; however, I took an oath to uphold the laws of this Commonwealth regardless of my personal views of those laws, as long as they are being fairly and justly applied. Thus, after extensive review and deliberation consistent with the process I have applied to previous requests for commutation, I have declined Mr. Morva’s petition. I have and will continue to pray for the families of the victims of these terrible crimes and for all of the people whose lives have been impacted.
I personally oppose slavery, but…
Perhaps it is obtuse to suggest that McAuliffe’s tortured reasoning on this seems heavily borrowed from just about any lost cause defending ignoble acts.
There is — of course — a more logical rationale behind McAuliffe’s actions.
McAuliffe doesn’t want this to become an issue during the 2017 gubernatorial elections, is all. Far easier to punt… even if the football is the life of a mentally ill man.
After all, who will weep for a man who objectively murdered two law enforcement personnel
because the man is suffering from a medically diagnosed psychiatric illness in cold blood?
McAuliffe’s arguments that Morva is not suffering from mental illness is utterly refuted by the facts of the case. In this instance, Morva escaped — literally escaped — a mental facility at a hospital, believing that he had supernatural powers and was charged with saving several indigenous tribes, living for months at a time barefoot in the woods foraging for his own food.
Morva’s condition worsened considerably after spending a year in jail awaiting trial for attempted robbery… to say that man who escaped treatment at a mental facility is somehow not mentally ill? Come on…
Even at his trial, Morva declared that he would no longer be called by his “slave name” — perferring to be called Nemo and declaring that others like him would sweep over civilization… this is not a sane man, folks (nor is this an act to get out of a deserved verdict).
Take another look at this guy, folks:
Morva is mentally ill. Not a little mentally ill… but a lot. We don’t kill sick people in Virginia, no matter how sick they are — and we don’t call that justice. We call that something else.
Political calculus, perhaps? But not justice.
More from the Virginia Catholic Conference:
Our Creator — who made us out of love for love — has dominion over all life. As children of this loving, merciful God we are led to a profound respect for every human life, from its very beginning until its natural end. Knowing that the state can protect itself in ways other than through the death penalty, we have repeatedly asked that the practice be abandoned. Our broken world cries out for justice, not the additional violence or vengeance the death penalty will exact.
We again express profound sorrow and offer our continued prayers for all victims of violence, whose lives have been brutally cut short, and their loved ones, whose grief continues. We pray for a change of heart and a spirit of remorse and conversion on the part of the perpetrators of this violence and ask God to give all of us the grace to work for peace and respect for all life in our communities and our Commonwealth.
To date, Northam’s campaign has been utterly silent on the merits of the Morva case, much less whether or not he would pardon or condemn the mentally ill to death.
Compare and contrast McAuliffe’s waffling on Morva with his clear and unambiguous remarks concerning Ivan Teleguz, a man with Russian mafia connections, receiving a pardon from McAuliffe earlier this year… and tell me that there’s a difference.
If one can commute Ivan Teleguz to life imprisonment, surely one can see the justice in doing likewise for William Morva.
UPDATE: In 2008, then-Governor Tim Kaine commuted a very similar case to Morva’s.
Walton was originally scheduled to be executed in June 2006, but Kaine delayed the execution for six months to determine if he was mentally competent, because Walton’s clemency petition showed evidence he was schizophrenic.
In December, Kaine concluded the execution could not proceed because “one could not reasonably conclude that Walton was fully aware of the punishment he was about to suffer and why he was to suffer it.”
Pretty certain that’s where we are here.