30 November 2005 :Gov. Mark Warner spared the life of a convicted killer who would have been the 1,000th person executed in the United States since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976.
The governor commuted Robin Lovitt's death sentence to life in prison without parole.
Lovitt, 42, was set to be executed by injection Wednesday night.
In granting clemency, the governor noted that evidence that had been improperly destroyed after Lovitt's conviction. Lovitt was convicted of stabbing Clayton Dicks during a robbery in 1998. Lovitt admitted grabbing the cash box, but insisted someone else killed Dicks. Initial DNA tests on the scissors were inconclusive.
In 2001 a court clerk destroyed much of the evidence in the case, including the scissors, supposedly to free up space in the evidence room. A state law requiring preservation of DNA evidence had taken effect a few weeks earlier.
"The commonwealth must ensure that every time this ultimate sanction is carried out, it is done fairly," Warner said in a statement. Warner, a Democrat, had never before granted clemency to a death row inmate during his 4 years in office. During that time, 11 men have been executed.
The 1,000th execution is now scheduled for Friday in North Carolina, where Kenneth Lee Boyd is slated to die for killing his estranged wife and her father.