A Virginia death row inmate will spend his life in prison instead of being executed for the 2001 murder of his ex-girlfriend after the state governor commuted the sentence on Thursday, saying it was flawed. Governor Terry McAuliffe told a news conference that he was halting the execution of Ivan Teleguz, 38, over concerns that false evidence might have influenced the jury, but was not granting a full pardon. Prosecutors submitted evidence, later disproved, that Teleguz was involved in another Pennsylvania murder and brought up unsubstantiated rumors that he was in the Russian mafia, adding that these factors might have affected the jury during sentencing. Teleguz was sentenced to death in 2006 for a murder-for-hire plot to kill his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Sipe. During the trial, three witnesses testified that Teleguz recruited them to kill Sipe, adding that two later recanted their statements. The third witness, Michael Hetrick, confessed to killing Sipe, 20, and took a life imprisonment deal in exchange for saying that Teleguz paid him to commit the murder. Teleguz’s lawyers have maintained his innocence and appealed his sentence, but McAuliffe said he was not granting a full pardon because numerous state and federal judges have evaluated the case and refused to overturn the conviction.
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