Morva Murder Trial Set To Begin; Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty

September 16, 2007

The capital murder trial for an escaped jail inmate who was the object of a manhunt that paralyzed the Virginia Tech campus last year may take a while to get under way. And once it does, it is likely to be lengthy.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ray Grubbs has designated two days for jury selection beginning Monday for William Morva, who is charged with killing a sheriff's deputy near campus as well as a hospital security guard. The Christiansburg trial is scheduled for three weeks.

Defense attorney Tony Anderson says the trial will be lengthy because a number of witnesses are expected to testify. He says the defense planned to call more than 20 witnesses.

No word from the prosecutor.

Circuit Court Clerk Allan Burke has summoned about 100 prospective jurors. He usually calls about 30 for a criminal trial, but Grubbs and attorneys for both sides agreed a higher number was needed.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for Morva, who's charged in the August 2006 slayings of 32-year-old hospital security guard Derrick McFarland, and 40-year-old county Sheriff's Corporal Eric Sutphin.

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