The ACLU of Virginia has urged Gov. Terry McAuliffe to halt the pending execution of Ivan Teleguz.
In a March 3 letter to the governor, ACLU-VA Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga pointed to “flaws in our criminal justice system that mean there is no guarantee you won’t be ordering the execution of an innocent person.” The letter notes that significant questions have been raised about evidence used to convict Mr. Teleguz in 2006.
"Mr. Teleguz’s case is one that illustrates well one of the core reasons why the ACLU of Virginia is opposed to the death penalty in every case, including this one,” the letter states. The Virginia Department of Corrections has set Mr. Teleguz’s execution by lethal injection for April 25.
In its letter, the ACLU-VA pointed to the exonerations of Earl Washington Jr. in 2000 and Keith Allen Harward in 2016 to support its position. Both men were nearly put to death but DNA evidence showed they could not have committed the crimes for which they were convicted.
In addition, the letter notes that the governor has not responded to another, earlier letter sent on Jan. 24 following the execution of Ricky Jovan Gray that expressed serious concerns about the method of execution used in Virginia and lack of transparency in the process.
“The ACLU of Virginia opposes the death penalty and seeks an end to its practice in Virginia,” the March 3 letter states. “Until that happens, however, we urge you to ensure that you won’t be ordering the execution of an innocent man by commuting Ivan Teleguz’s sentence to life without parole, impose a moratorium on all executions until fully transparent protocols are put in place, and, ultimately, stand with us in support of ending the torturous, barbaric practice of capital punishment in Virginia.”