Updates: Turner Ashby alum's case goes to US Supreme Court

Published: Apr. 6, 2016 at 11:05 PM EDT
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UPDATE (April 7):

By Isabel Rosales

Right now, Rockingham County death row inmate, Ivan Teleguz, is on his last resort in avoiding the death penalty. Teleguz's execution has been essentially paused as his defense works his final shot at an appeal.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Teleguz's stay just a week from his scheduled execution. That's because he's appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. His defense argues that Teleguz was not correctly advised during trial.

Now, he's got two options left. He's hoping either Gov. Terry McAuliffe intervenes or that the Supreme Court will listen to his concerns.

McAuliffe has only had one opportunity for offering clemency before, and that was with former convicted murderer Alfredo Prieto. That request was denied and Prieto was executed in October.

There's another twist in Teleguz's execution process: it's not clear whether it's even possible. Prison leaders claim they don't have enough lethal injection drugs to carry executions out.

This Sunday marks the deadline for McAuliffe to sign off on House Bill 815. It would make the electric chair the default option if lethal injection is not possible.

Should the state run out of the drugs --and McAuliffe veto the bill-- it could put a stop to executions until another option is found.

Teleguz was convicted of hiring a man to kill his former girlfriend in 2006. Since then, two key prosecution witnesses have recanted.

Death penalty petitions are expedited within the Supreme Court.The defense expects to hear on whether the high court will look at the case by October.

A number of Teleguz advocates are questioning what they say are holes in evidence and the key witnesses. Non-profit group Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center started the Ivan's Prayer for Justice movement.

Their Change.ORG petition already has nearly 65,000 signatures.



By Terry Ward

In 2006, Ivan Teleguz was convicted of hiring a man to kill his past girlfriend. Stephanie Sipe died in Harrisonburg in the alleged murder-for-hire. Teleguz was sentenced to death and scheduled for execution on April 13 of this year.

However, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has intervened and postponed the execution while the U.S. Supreme Court examines the Teleguz case.

Two witnesses for the prosecution have apparently withdrawn parts of their statements. There is also uncertainty about whether the state would have sufficient amounts of lethal injection drugs on hand at the scheduled time.

As the originally-scheduled execution date approached, a call for Governor McAuliffe to grant Teleguz clemency gained a large social media following, and has attracted the attention of journalists across the U.S. and internationally. Many have used the case as an example of a broken system and a reason to question the death penalty.

Marsha Garst, who has been the commonwealth's attorney for Rockinham County and Harrisonburg since 1999, was the key prosecutor in the 2006 case. Ukrainian-born Teleguz attended Turner Ashby High School in Rockingham County, Va.