A federal judge has denied a Virginia inmate’s request to function as his own attorney in his death penalty appeal. William Morva, convicted of killing a hospital security guard and a sheriff’s deputy during an escape in 2006, said he was horrified by the contents of the filing of his court-appointed attorneys and asked the judge to let him represent himself.
The Roanoke Times reported Morva spoke in a loud, assertive tone and wore an enormous beard with hair descending below his shoulders during the two-hour hearing conducted by two-way television from prison.
US District Court Judge Michael Urbanski told Morva if the filing was incomplete, it was partly his fault because he declined to undergo an evaluation to probe his mental health as a possible appeal issue, denied his request and ordered a mental evaluation anyway, saying he would rule on his competence later.
His appeal is pending in Roanoke federal court.