The state's attorney general refused to seek a new trial for a former death-row inmate whose life Gov. L. Douglas Wilder spared.
Joseph M. Giarratano, supported by celebrities who question his guilt, faces at least 13 more years in jail if his convictions aren't overturned in the 1979 murders of a Norfolk woman and her 15-year-old daughter.Giarratano, who has written about death row for The Yale Law Journal, had been scheduled to die in the electric chair Friday. But Wilder commuted the sentence to life in prison on Tuesday and made him eligible for parole in 13 years.
The governor also removed himself from further involvement in the case, saying Attorney General Mary Sue Terry should decide whether to seek a new trial for Giarratano. Terry announced Wednesday night she would not.
Giarratano's attorney says he won't give up trying to prove his client's innocence.
"It's not over," Gerald T. Zerkin said. "People told us we could never get this far. Don't count us out."
Zerkin said he didn't know what other options he could pursue, however.
Giarratano and his supporters had wanted Wilder to order a new trial, but the governor said state law forbids him from doing that.
Giarratano, 33, was convicted of the murder of Barbara Kline, 44, and the rape and murder of her daughter, Michelle, 15.