A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge yesterday sentenced convicted murdererer Richard Lee Whitley to die in the electric chair for the slaying of a 63-year-old Pimmit Hills widow last July.
Judge F. Bruce Bach, saying he agreed with a jury's recommendation that Whitly be put to death, set May 29, 1982, as the execution date. The sentence will automatically be appealed to the state Supreme Court under Virginia law.
Whitley, 34, dressed in a faded jeans outfit, smiled through much of the 30-minute hearing and as he was escorted in handcuffs out the courtroom after the hearing ended.
Whitly's case was the second this week in Northern Virginia involving the death penalty. An Arlington jury on Wednesday recommended execution for a 28-year-old Cuban refugee convicted of murdering an elderly woman. Arlington Circuit Judge Charles Russell delayed sentencing until Aug. 3 in that case to allow for defense motions.
Whitley becomes the 16th felon awaiting execution in Virginia, where the last death penalty was carried out in 1962.
A chicago native, Whitley was convicted May 13 in the stabbing and beating death of Phoebe Parsons of 7718 Lisle Ave. Trial testimony included a signed statement from Whitley in which he admitted choking the woman, cutting her throat and otherwise damaging her body.
Fairfax chief prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. cited a presentencing report yesterday that said Whitley had in the past sexually abused his 10-year-old stepdaughter, forcibly sodomized a male hitchhiker in Arlington, injured and raped his own mother and spent time in Illinois and Nevada prisons on various charges.
Bach granted a request from defense lawyers Warren McLain that another lawyer be appointed to handle Whitley's automatic appeal.