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Va. Gov. Commutes Death Sentence

May 12, 1999

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Four hours before he was to be executed Wednesday, a mentally ill man’s life was spared when Gov. Jim Gilmore commuted his death sentence.

It was the first time Gilmore has stopped the execution of a condemned inmate since he became governor in more than a year ago.

Calvin Swann, 44, was to be put to death at 9 p.m. for robbing and shooting a 62-year-old man in his Danville home in 1992.

But defense lawyers argued that Swann’s life should be spared because he suffers from schizophrenia.

Swann was committed to psychiatric hospitals more than 16 times, was treated repeatedly with anti-psychotic medications and was twice found incompetent by judges to stand trial, said his lawyer, John Howley.

Swann’s brother, Clyde Swann, said he met with his brother on Tuesday and told him he was on the verge of being executed.

``His concern was getting some more cigarettes and candy and about his broken Walkman,″ Clyde Swann said. ``I don’t think he knows what he’s up against.″

Gilmore, who declined to intervene in any of the 21 other executions held since he took office in January 1998, commuted the death sentence around 5 p.m.

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