A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge refused yesterday to stay the execution of Richard L. Whitley, who is scheduled to die in nine days for what has been described as the "unbelievably brutal" slaying six years ago of a Pimmit Hills widow.

In a written opinion, Judge F. Bruce Bach denied a motion by Whitley's attorney that his client be declared "insane" or "feebleminded," and therefore be entitled under Virginia law to be committed to a state hospital. The judge also said Whitley was not entitled to a hearing on the matter.

"The court finds that there is no evidence to suggest that {Whitley} does not understand the penalty he is about to suffer or why he is about to suffer it," Judge Bach wrote in the five-page opinion. Whitley is "presumed to be sane," read the opinion.

"I think the opinion bordered on the shocking -- that the court would not hear any oral presentation, even by telephone, in a case of this magnitude," said Timothy M. Kaine, Whitley's attorney in Richmond. "The decision was a predictable one, an easy one and probably will be a popular one, but it was a wrong one."

Kaine, who has a petition pending in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, said he would appeal Bach's decision to the Virginia Supreme Court. Whitley's case has already been through the traditional appeals route, including three unsuccessful trips to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kaine said.

Kaine was preparing late yesterday to tell Whitley, who is on death row in the basement of the Virginia State Penitentiary, about Bach's decision.

Unless he is granted a last-minute reprieve, some believe Whitley, 41, would be the first Fairfax County resident to die in the state's electric chair.

Whitley was convicted on May 13, 1981, of the murder of his 63-year-old neighbor, Phoebe Parsons of 7718 Lisle Ave. Testimony at the trial, presided over by Judge Bach, included a signed statement from Whitley in which he admitted to strangling Parsons, cutting her throat and sexually assaulting her with two umbrellas.

Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., who prosecuted Whitley, called the slaying "unbelievably brutal."

According to expert witnesses called during some of his appeals, Whitley had an "antisocial personality" and suffered from some type of "organic brain dysfunction."

Nevertheless, Bach said in his opinion that there were no grounds for finding Whitley feebleminded, based on the statutory definition of the term.

Kaine said yesterday that "if organic brain damage is not a mental defect, then maybe there's no such thing as mental defectiveness."

Meanwhile, Chris Bridge, press secretary for Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, said yesterday that representatives of Amnesty International, which opposes capital punishment, delivered a letter Thursday to Baliles' hotel in Goteburg, Sweden, where he is on a trade mission, asking him to stay the execution.

Bridge said representatives of the organization had called the governor's office in Richmond before he left on his 11-day European tour, and asked to meet with Baliles while he was in Sweden, but were told his schedule was full.

Bridge said that while the governor saw no protesters, his state police security guards said they saw between five and 10 death-penalty protesters at the Goteburg airport when Baliles arrived.

One person has been executed in Virginia since Baliles took office 17 months ago.

Staff writer Donald P. Baker contributed to this report.