Virginia Gov. Charles S. Robb, in Afton, Okla., for a meeting of the National Governors Association, was interviewed by Washington Post staff writer David S. Broder yesterday about his role in the Coppola case. The execution is scheduled for 11 o'clock tonight.
Q. Do you expect to intervene in the execution of Frank J. Coppola? What would be the grounds for such an intervention?
I do not expect to intervene but I will continue to review all the material that is given to me on the case.
I have reviewed the entire trial transcript, the appeals, the parole and probation reports and a number of additional memos dealing with questions that were raised by me.
And after this exhaustive review, I have not yet found anything that would cause me to intervene.
At this point, there is not any fact or legal argument that has been raised that would cause me to intervene but again I am continuing to examine all the materials that bear on this case.
Q. What do you make of the argument that the Virginia death penalty has never been fully tested for its constitutionality in federal courts?
I would take strong issue with that suggestion. It is true there has been no definitive ruling on the Virginia statute but the Virginia statute was drawn on the Florida, Texas and Georgia statutes and it is more narrowly drawn than those three and I have absolutely no doubt of its contitutionality.
Q. Now that an execution is near, do you have any personal qualms about your support of the death penalty? Is this difficult for you?
Obviously, this is not an easy decision or process. Two or three other governors here have come up to me and said they are glad it is not happening to them.
I like to think of myself as compassionate and concerned, so I have been doing a good deal of soul searching.
But I came to my basic position sometime ago and I have not changed my view. There is no adequate alternative to this penalty for certain heinous crimes.
I make that decision with no relish but a clear conscience, but it is a troubling matter for everyone because of the finality of the penalty.