Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 9, 2013

Federal judge blocks Virginia execution

Associated Press

ROANOKE, Va. — A federal judge on Monday blocked the scheduled execution of a Virginia inmate who escaped from jail and killed a hospital guard and a sheriff’s deputy.

An Aug. 15 execution date was set for William Morva after his state appeals were exhausted in April. But inmates are guaranteed federal appeals, so Judge Michael Urbanski’s order in U.S. District Court in Roanoke was no surprise.

Morva, 31, was convicted of the 2006 deaths of hospital security guard Derrick McFarland and Cpl. Eric Sutphin.

Morva was in jail awaiting trial on attempted robbery charges when he was taken to a Blacksburg hospital for treatment of an injury. He overpowered a Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy in the hospital and used the deputy’s pistol to shoot unarmed security guard McFarland, 32.

Morva shot Sutphin, 40, one day later on a walking trail near the Virginia Tech campus, which had been shut down on the first day of classes as police tracked Morva.

The order was first reported by The Roanoke Times (

Morva’s attorneys have until Sept. 19 to file a petition with the federal court. If he fails to do so, another execution date would be set. If Morva does appeal, the case would work its way through the federal court system before another execution date would be set.