Governor Terry McAuliffe
Governor Terry McAuliffe rejected a bid to stay the execution for serial killer Alfredo Prieto, who claims his life should be spared because he is intellectually disabledREUTERS/Mike Theiler

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe rejected a last-minute request for a delay of execution of convicted serial killer Alfredo Prieto, who claims his life should be spared because he is intellectually disabled. Prieto will be the first inmate to be executed in Virginia in nearly three years, unless the US Supreme Court steps in.

According to The Associated Press, Prieto's attorneys asked the Democratic governor to grant a temporary delay to his execution so he could be taken to California where the defence team planned to argue that he is not eligible for the death penalty due to his intellectual disability.

However, on 28 September McAuliffe announced that he will not interfere in the case, citing the decisions by state and federal appellate courts that denied the prisoner's request for relief. "Mr Prieto was convicted in a fair and impartial trial, and a jury sentenced him to death in accordance with Virginia law," he wrote in his statement.

"It is the Governor's responsibility to ensure that the laws of the Commonwealth are properly carried out unless circumstances merit a stay or commutation of the sentence," the governor continued. "After extensive review and deliberation, I have found no such circumstances, and have thus decided that this execution will move forward."

Rob Lee, one of Prieto's defence attorneys, told the AP in an email that he had not been notified of the governor's decision.

The AP reported that in 2010 Prieto was facing execution in California for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl when he was sentenced by Virginia jury for the 1988 murder of Rachael Raver and her boyfriend Warren Fulton III. Prieto was sent to Virginia because California officials believed Virginia would be more likely to carry out the death penalty.

The convicted killer has been linked to several other California and Virginia killings through DNA and ballistics evidence but has never prosecuted for those crimes because he is already on death row. Matthew Raver, brother of Rachael Raver, told the AP he plans to attend Prieto's execution on 1 October at the Greenville Correctional Center.