Pope Francis's representatives in Washington wrote to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Wednesday, asking him to call off the looming execution of serial killer Alfred Prieto.
Prieto, 49, could be put to death as early as Thursday night, pending the outcome of a court hearing.
"The U.S. Apostolic Nuncio wrote a letter on behalf of the Holy Father to Governor McAuliffe, asking that Mr. Prieto not be executed," said Jeff Caruso, executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference.
A spokesman for McAuliffe (D) confirmed that the governor received the letter but said he could not immediately provide a copy or any details of the letter, which was first reported by Washingtonian.
"We did receive a letter today," spokesman Brian Coy said.
McAuliffe, a Catholic who attended a White House greeting ceremony for the pope last week, has not always been in step with his church or party on the death penalty.
Although the Democratic base opposes capital punishment, McAuliffe supported it when he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009, according to news reports from the time. More recently, McAuliffe's office has said that he personally opposes the death penalty but would not let his personal feelings on keep him from upholding the law.
McAuliffe supported legislation this year intended to shield makers of lethal injection drugs from public pressure by exempting the companies' names from the state's open records laws.
On Monday, McAuliffe said he would not intervene to stop Prieto's execution - the 1st since McAuliffe to took office in January 2014.
Prieto, 49, is facing lethal injection for the fatal 1988 shootings of Rachael A. Raver and Warren H. Fulton III outside of Reston. Authorities say they believe he killed nine people and raped four of them in a two-year span from 1988 to 1990.
Pope Francis called for an end to the death penalty during his visit to the United States, which was scheduled to execute 6 death-row inmates in 5 states in the 2 weeks following his trip. The pope's representatives in Washington have sent letters to governors of other states, including Georgia and Oklahoma, asking that the inmates' lives be spared, according to news accounts.
Source: Washington Post, Sept. 30, 2015
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