U.S. Supreme Court Grants Stay in Execution

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

July 11, 2005

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in the execution of Robin Lovitt. The stay came about 3.5 hours before Lovitt was scheduled to be put to death.

Lovitt was convicted in 1999 of killing a man with a pair of scissors during a pool hall robbery in Arlington. Today protesters lined the streets outside of Charlottesville's Circuit Court. They held sign after sign, displaying the same message: no more death penalty.

"When justice, quote 'justice', involves killing then I think it's not justice," said Virginia Rovnyak, an anti-death penalty advocate.

What sparked Monday's courthouse protest was the 1999 Arlington case of convicted murderer Robin Lovitt. The 41-year-old's execution was scheduled for Monday evening, despite questions of faulty DNA handling by the state. But in a late U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Lovitt's execution was put on hold. Still, anti-death penalty advocates think there shouldn't be an execution at all.

"We really would hope that Governor Warner would commute this sentence to life in prison without parole, and give Robin Lovitt the opportunity [to go] back to court," said Jack Payden-Travers, who is another against the death penalty.

Not everyone, however, agrees with the no death penalty stance.

"I think it's an important tool that we as a society have. I think there are some crimes [that] it's the only appropriate punishment, but we should be really, really be careful when we apply it," said Tom McCrystal, Republican Candidate for the 57th District.

Still, anti-death penalty groups hope with enough momentum they can one day change the law and keep both the guilty and innocent from death row.

"The death penalty is racist as it's practiced in Virginia. It's discriminatory against the poor, it's arbitrary because it's not reserved for the worst of the worst, and you can go right on down the line," said Payden-Travers.

Lovitt's execution has been put on hold until October when the full court resumes. The court will either hear Lovitt's appeal or allow Virginia to continue on with his execution. Lovitt's execution would have been the 95th since 1982 when the state decided to resume executions.

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