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Death penalty volunteer presents ethical issues

Legal and ethical questions have been raised by the apparent decision by an accused killer to seek his own execution.

Waverly Whitlock, who was charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old boy, has volunteered for the death penalty, according to the Daily Progress. His motives for the decision have not been revealed.

The Virginia State Bar issued a legal ethics opinion in 2005 stating that requesting the death penalty is not an unlawful act, and “a client’s preference for the death penalty is not ‘state-assisted suicide’ as the state’s imposition of the penalty is not a homicide.”

In a hearing this Friday in Charlottesville Circuit, doctors will testify about their findings regarding Whitlock’s competency.

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