Virginia governor says man is guilty but shouldn't be executed

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Associated Press

For weeks, supporters of a man sentenced to death in a 2006 murder-for-hire case urged Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to spare his life because they believe he may be innocent. 

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows Ivan Teleguz. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has called off Teleguz's execution in a murder-for-hire case, citing concerns about some of the information presented to jurors. The Democratic governor commuted the sentence to life in prison Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Virginia Department of Corrections via AP, File)

This undated file photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows Ivan Teleguz.

Source: Associated Press

In the end, they got their wish, but not because the governor doubts he's guilty.

McAuliffe said today that he believes Ivan Teleguz hired another man to kill his ex-girlfriend in 2001. 

But the Democrat said he cannot let Teleguz be put to death because jurors were given false information that may have swayed their sentencing decision.

"American values demand that every person, no matter their crime, be given the due process of law," McAuliffe said. 

"In this case, we now know that the jury acted on false information, and that it was driven by passions and fears raised - not from actual evidence introduced at trial - but from inference."

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, right, states that he will not pardon Ivan Teleguz, who is on death row on a murder for hire conviction, but will commute his sentence from the death penalty to life without parole, during a press conference at the State Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2017. At left is Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Source: 1 NEWS

Teleguz, 38, who maintains he is innocent, was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday (NZT). 

But McAuliffe commuted his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

He was convicted in 2006 of ordering the death of 20-year-old Stephanie Sipe, the mother of his child, who was stabbed to death in her Harrisonburg apartment. 

McAuliffe had faced mounting pressure to call off the execution out of concern over executing a possibly innocent man after two key prosecution witnesses who implicated Teleguz recanted their testimony.

McAuliffe said his office received roughly 6,000 calls and letters about Teleguz's case - the vast majority urging clemency. 

British billionaire Richard Branson and the newspaper in Virginia's capital city were among those calling on McAuliffe to spare Teleguz.

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