Morva murder trial begins tomorrow
Sixteen months after he shut down the Virginia Tech campus on the first day of classes after escaping from prison and killing two people, including a respected former Albemarle County police officer, William Morva is set to finally have his day in court tomorrow. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the delay is due to moving the trial further south to Abingdon County, as Judge Ray Grubbs considered it impossible to find an unbiased jury in Montgomery County because of the high-profile nature of the case.
On August 21, 2006, Morva was awaiting trial for armed robbery and receiving treatment in the emergency room of a Montgomery County hospital when he overpowered a Montgomery County police officer, stole his gun, and allegedly shot hospital guard Derrick McFarland as he made his escape. Hours later, Morva came upon Montgomery County police officer Eric Sutphin on Blacksburg's Huckleberry Trail where he allegedly shot and killed the former Albemarle County cop.
Morva had been an infamous figure among Virginia Tech students, known for hanging out in area coffee shops and delivering long-winded speeches about living in the woods and eating raw meat. Some Tech students began selling t-shirts bearing Morva's visage and the words "William Morva Is An A**h***" for $5 apiece.
Local blogger and 2005 Tech graduate Waldo Jaquith told the Hook in 2006, "He was just a creepy guy who'd be barefoot outside the coffee shop in January. I figured he was nuts or harmless."
When Virginia Tech officials received word that a gunman was loose in their town, they decided to cancel classes at 10:30am and began executing a staggered evacuation of campus beginning around 1pm. Police apprehended Morva near Virginia Tech's rugby fields at 3:39pm.
Considering that no students, faculty, or staff were hurt that day, some Virginia Tech students admitted they didn't think much of it when, on April 16, 2007, they received an e-mail warning of another armed and dangerous man at large. However, police were not as successful that day, when a student shot and killed 32 people before taking his own life.
Morva's trial is scheduled to run through March 14. He is currently serving a 38-year prison sentence for armed robbery.
To learn more about Morva, read the essay by the Hook's Vijith Assar, a high-school classmate of the accused murderer.