RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today announced that, following a thorough legal review of the case, he will commute the death sentence of Ivan Teleguz to life imprisonment without parole. Teleguz’s request for a pardon will be denied. Teleguz was convicted in the murder-for-hire of Stephanie Yvonne Sipe in July 2001. He was scheduled to be executed on April 25.
Announcing his decision at the Virginia State Capitol today, Governor McAuliffe delivered the following statement (as prepared):
Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us. I am joined today by my Secretary of Public Safety, Brian Moran, and my Counsel, Carlos Hopkins, both of whom have devoted countles
BILL CLEAVELAND WITH BOTETOURT AND ROANOKE COUNTY COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEYS
Bill Cleaveland, Botetourt attorney and Republican candidate for the House of Delegates 17th District held a press conference Tuesday flanked by Botetourt Commonwealth Attorney Joel Branscom and Randy Leach Roanoke County Commonwealth Attorney. The special session of the General Assembly starts Wednesday and will address concerns raised in the SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States) Melendez-Diaz decision.
Until the SCOTUS ruling, the Virginia State forensic lab was able to submit a certificate of analysis of their findings for use in court in drug and D.U.I. cases. Virginia law allows the certificate of analysis as proof of the drugs involved in the case or blood alcohol content. This decision has begun forcing prosecutors to suspend drug and drunk driver prosecutions
Cleaveland applauded Sen. Ken Cuccinelli’s leadership that pressured Governor Tim Kaine to call for the special session Wednesday. Cuccinelli is the Republican candidate for Attorney General. Cuccinelli had remarked earlier that “with the volume of cases analyzed, requiring court appearances by the scientist in every case has the potential to cripple the criminal justice system.”
“The safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth is at stake … this is no time for indecision,” said Cleaveland. He considers the bill temporary relief from the concerns raised by the Melendez-Diaz decision. The temporary relief would require a prosecutor or defense attorney to give sufficient notice to subpoena a lab technician. It will need a more permanent resolution when the regular session begins in January said Cleaveland.
Cleaveland explained later the pros and cons a prosecutor or a defense attorney would need to consider in requesting a lab technician in court to respond to questioning. There could be other issues in the case that would “make it worse for them … but constitutionally you still have to have that process.”
For a more permanent solution Cleaveland said that “there’s been some discussion about whether or not it’s appropriate to do video testimony and there is some research that has to be done on whether or not that would be constitutional. If something can’t be worked out then lab technicians won’t have the time to do the lab work.”
Cleaveland said that as an attorney he is uniquely qualified to understand the constitutional issues related to the criminal prosecution of these cases. “My experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and substitute judge has prepared me for common sense leadership – You have my word on it,” said Cleaveland.
Cleaveland’s campaign manager, Steve Mabry said they expect to have two debates or forums possibly in October. They would work a schedule out with the Democratic candidate, Gwen Mason and her campaign staff.
Democratic Opponent Gwen Mason Comments in an email:
“I applaud the decisive action being taken by the General Assembly on this issue. The bipartisan effort shown by the Majority and Minority leadership, both cosponsors of the bill, is an example of what can happen when we put aside the partisanship and work together to solve our problems. Governor Kaine will also present his estimates tomorrow for the Commonwealth’s budget shortfall in 2010, in the very least $700 million. Times are tight and we need to focus on getting our economy back on track. I think this special session is a fine example of what can be accomplished when we set aside the politics and put people first to solve Virginia’s problems.”