Va. governor rejects bid to halt inmate's execution | us news

Va. governor rejects bid to halt inmate’s execution

29 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Convicted killer who claims disability to be executed in Virginia.

Virginia Gov. Lawyers for the convict — who was on death row in California from 1990 until his transfer to Virginia, when he was found guilty of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl — want him to be returned to the golden state, where they believe he will receive a fair assessment of his alleged handicap, The Associated Press reported.RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia is poised to execute a convicted serial killer who claims he’s intellectually disabled using lethal injection drugs from Texas because the state’s supply of another controversial drug will expire the day before the execution is supposed to take place.According to a court filing, the lawyer for an Oklahoma death row inmate is claiming that his client shouldn’t have to use an alternative to pentobarbital, one of the chemicals in the lethal injection cocktail.

The attorneys argue that Prieto’s upbringing in his native El Salvador has hindered his ability to maintain proper brain function and keep control of his actions. Prieto’s attorneys had asked the Democratic governor to grant a temporary reprieve of his execution so he could be transferred to California, where they hoped to argue that he’s ineligible for the death penalty because he is intellectually disabled. As they wait for McAuliffe to make a decision, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed that it sent three vials of the execution drug pentobarbital to Virginia. Since capital punishment was re-authorized by the Supreme Court in 1976, there have been 110 executions in the Commonwealth of Virginia — which places it third in the nation for the most carried out in that time.

Authorities have said DNA and ballistics evidence have linked Prieto to several other killings in California and Virginia but he was never prosecuted because he had already been sentenced to death. It is not saying where it’s getting it and by a new state law it doesn’t have to right now.” Langford says there’s nothing illegal about Texas selling its pentobarbital – where the source is from – to other states. “In fact, in 2014 when Texas was low on pentobarbital, the state of Virginia – the Virginia Department of Corrections there – transferred or sent over pentobarbital to Texas,” she says. Matthew Raver, Rachael Raver’s brother, said Prieto’s seemingly endless efforts to delay his execution have felt like “salt in the wound” for the victim’s family, which remains devastated by Rachael Raver’s death nearly three decades later. Evidence of a third Northern Virginia slaying, of Veronica “Tina” Jefferson in Arlington in May 1988, was also presented to the jury during its sentencing phases. McAuliffe is now in the position of being the third sitting Democratic governor — joining Missouri and Delaware — to execute an order of capital punishment.

Prieto and the families of his victims, I have decided not to intervene in this execution,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “It is the Governor’s responsibility to ensure that the laws of the Commonwealth are properly carried out unless circumstances merit a stay or commutation of the sentence,” he continued. “After extensive review and deliberation, I have found no such circumstances, and have thus decided that this execution will move forward. Supreme Court ruled that the three-drug execution cocktail that the state uses there – midazolam, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride – did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. As a child, Prieto struggled with learning and was quiet and withdrawn, often sitting alone and “staring blankly at nothing,” Prieto’s attorneys said last week in their request to McAuliffe to delay the execution. I will continue to pray for all of the individuals and families affected by these tragic and horrible crimes.” A federal appeals court in Virginia upheld Prieto’s conviction in June, saying he failed to prove that no reasonable juror would find him eligible for execution.

During trials in Fairfax in 2007 and 2008, defense lawyers presented evidence that Prieto’s IQ fell below the state standard for mental retardation. Prieto has also asked the justices to rule on the constitutionality of Virginia’s policy of automatically placing death row inmates in solitary confinement. Langford says the federal attorneys are asking why Oklahoma can’t just ask Texas for the pentobarbital. “It’s a counter-intuitive argument,” Langford says. “Because we’ve got federal public defenders asking for an alternative lethal drug.” States across the nation have struggled to obtain execution drugs because pharmaceutical companies have been pressured to stop selling them to prisons for lethal injections.

But Prieto’s attorneys and advocates for people with intellectual disabilities say his cognitive strengths are irrelevant. “You shouldn’t discard the idea that someone has an intellectual disability just because they have a girlfriend or a job,” said Rob Lee, one of Prieto’s lawyers. But the state hasn’t executed an inmate since January 2013, when Robert Gleason Jr. was put to death in the state’s electric chair, which inmates can choose over lethal injection.

At a second trial in 2008, the jury again rejected the retardation defense, convicted Prieto and voted for two death sentences, which Bellows imposed. Death penalty opponents, who have been pressing McAuliffe to call off the execution, plan to hold vigils at 10 locations across the state Thursday evening.

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