Execution secrecy in Virginia
The state of Virginia has taken a step backwards on the death penalty. Calls for the return of the electric chair have been rejected, but secrecy around lethal injections has increased.
The courts in Arkansas and Missouri have already rejected attempts to keep execution drug suppliers secret. But lawmakers in Virginia passed a controversial bill designed to shroud execution procedures in secrecy and shield drug suppliers from the Freedom of Information Act.
The bill also proposes using secret batches of specially mixed medicines, known as compounded medicines, in executions by lethal injection. But the use of compounded medicines in executions is opposed by both the American Pharmacists Association and the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists.
“This takes the state down a dangerous road. Virginia’s secret drug law completely ignores the wishes of pharmacists, who – like the companies who make the drugs – are in the business of saving lives rather than ending them. Sourcing drugs in secret will drive the lethal injection process further into the shadows, removing any accountability from the process and increasing the risk of botches.”
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty Team
An innocent man on Virginia’s death row
An innocent man, Ivan Teleguz, is sitting on Virginia’s death row for a crime he didn’t commit. The man who confessed to the murder of his former partner is serving a life sentence for the crime. The prosecutor coerced witnesses and even used a made-up murder to scare the jury into handing down a death sentence. Despite all the evidence, Virginia still plans to execute Ivan.
The case against Ivan was based on false evidence. Three men said that he hired his former partner’s killer. But two of those men have since admitted that they lied in court – and have sworn under oath that Ivan was not involved. The third, Michael Hetrick, confessed to the killing. He was offered a deal: if he said that Ivan hired him to murder Stephanie, his own life would be spared.
The prosecution even used a made-up murder to make sure that Ivan was given a death sentence. At trial, the prosecutor said that Ivan should be given the death penalty because he was involved in another murder in Pennsylvania and was highly dangerous. It was later revealed that the murder never even happened.
There is evidence that calls into question every part of the case against Ivan. There is too much doubt for this execution to go ahead.