Case raises questions of fairness in executing mentally ill

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The upcoming execution of a Virginia inmate has pushed to the forefront the debate over whether people with mental illness should be shielded from the ultimate punishment.

Thirty-five-year-old William Morva is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday for the killings of a hospital security guard and a sheriff’s deputy in 2006. The killings came after Morva, who was in jail on attempted robbery charges, was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Morva’s attorneys and mental health advocates are calling on Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to spare his life.

The inmate’s lawyers say he suffers from a severe mental illness that makes it impossible for him to distinguish between delusions and reality. They say his crimes were spawned by a belief that he was going to die in jail.

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