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Virginia Executes Severely Mentally Disabled Prisoner

HeadlineJul 07, 2017

In Virginia, prison officials ended the life of death row prisoner William Morva Thursday night with a lethal cocktail of three drugs, after Governor Terry McAuliffe denied Morva’s final appeal for clemency. The execution relied on the drug midazolam, which has repeatedly failed to make prisoners unconscious in other executions, leading to painful deaths. This is reporter Drew Wilder, who witnessed the execution.

Drew Wilder: “He started gasping for air. His stomach came out, and it contracted pretty dramatically. His stomach came in and out a handful of times, maybe—maybe 10 times.”

William Morva was pronounced dead at 9:15 p.m. local time. His death sentence came despite a doctor’s finding that Morva suffered from a severe delusional disorder. In a statement, Amnesty International tweeted, “The execution of William Morva, a man with a severe mental disability, is appalling. The death penalty should be ended once and for all.”

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