On July 6 2017 the Commonwealth of Virginia executed a severely mentally ill man – William Morva.
William was failed by the system and should never have been sentenced to death. He was only 18 when his family’s long history of mental illness and domestic violence caught up with him. He was a promising young man, and a member of Amnesty International. After he dropped out of high school, his mental health deteriorated dramatically and his lifestyle changed. He espoused bizarre views and strange behavior. He was arrested on robbery charges.
While awaiting trial, William’s delusions engulfed him and he believed he was in danger, fighting for his life. He escaped custody and in the process he shot and killed two men.
In court, the trial psychiatrist incorrectly diagnosed William with a personality disorder and wrongly told jurors that he didn’t have delusions. It was not until six years later that the extent of William’s mental illness was finally revealed. When William was finally evaluated by a court appointed expert, it was confirmed he has an illness that makes him believe in realities that aren’t true. It was these delusional realities, too powerful for anyone to resist, that led him to commit his crimes.
In the run up to William’s execution, over a thousand of our supporters voiced their opposition to this cruel act, and asked the Governor of Virginia to grant clemency. Many others joined us in calling on Governor McAuliffe to grant clemency to William. Two UN human rights experts, 28 state legislators, the daughter of one of the victims, and numerous others publicaly asked Governor McAuliffe to spare William’s life.
Despite this, the Governor refused to intervene. Instead of treating William for his severe mental illness, the state executed him with an experimental cocktail of unregulated drugs.