August 3, 2010
A Blacksburg man has been convicted of conspiring to help a prisoner escape and is sentenced to three years in prison. The Michael Morva trial, which was moved to Harrisonburg from Blacksburg for a change of venue, wrapped up Tuesday afternoon.
Morva was found guilty of conspiring to help his brother, William Morva, escape from jail in August of 2006. William Morva then killed a sheriff's deputy and a hospital security guard.
The Montgomery County Sheriff says Tuesday's decision brings them a step closer to justice.
"Michael plain and simply was a co-conspirator. And this jury returned a verdict of guilty, the same as the one in Abbington returned a verdict of guilt on William Morva. And final justice will come when William Morva's put to death," says Sheriff Tommy Whitt.
The case was handed to the jury around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, and it took the jury about two hours to reach the guilty verdict.
Before sentencing, Morva had an outburst in the courtroom, threatening the judge. According to Morva's attorney, he was upset about the verdict.
Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney Brad Finch says they asked for five years, but he's still pleased with the verdict.
"It being the maximum and for this defendant, based on his behavior now and his behavior in the past, we felt that the maximum was appropriate, but we certainly respect and appreciate the jury's decision," says Finch.
The result is something defense attorney Jeffrey Oppleman says he's satisfied with as well.
"It was a compromise. They felt he needed some help, they felt he was culpable, but not as culpable as the prosecution would've made you believe, so it was a compromise decision," says Oppleman.
Oppleman requested the change in venue. After completing the trial, he says he thinks it helped and was necessary to get an untainted jury.
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