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End of death penalty in Washington eyed to save money

The Associated Press
Annie Capestany, of Walla Walla, Wash., showed her opposition to the death penalty outside the Washington State Penitentiary in 2010 just prior to the execution of Cal Coburn Brown, the state's most recent execution.

"I clearly wanted him dead. But I got smart."

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are considering a plan to save money by abolishing the death penalty in the state. That idea got a hearing in Olympia.

Karil Klingbeil testified in support of the ban. Her sister, Candy Hemmig, was murdered 30 years ago in Olympia. The killer, Mitchell Rupe was dubbed “the man too fat to hang.” He initially got the death penalty, but after 20 years of appeals, received a life sentence instead.

Klingbeil testified about the anger she used to feel.

“I clearly wanted him dead. But I got smart," she said. "I realized that I had not one reason to support the death penalty. There was a sufficient alternative available and that was life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

That’s what this plan proposes: To sentence a killer to life in prison without the chance of parole, instead of the death penalty. If the ban passes, Washington would join 15 other states and the District of Columbia.

Most recent execution in Washington

The last execution in Washington was Cal Coburn Brown, who was executed by lethal injection at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla in September 2010.

In his final moments, CBS News reports, he turned and addressed Washa's family. Brown said he hopes this gives "them closure." He told them he understood how they felt, but never said he was sorry.

Brown complained about his treatment by the state, and said he was angry other killers received life in prison, while he had to die. Brown also said, "I only killed one victim."

No women have been executed in Washington.

Executions halted in Oregon

After allowing the 1996 execution of Douglas F. Wright and the 1997 execution of Harry C. Moore to take place, Gov. John Kitzhaber banned executions in that state.

In November, Oregon Live reportsed, the governor placed a moratorium on all executions, issued a temporary reprieve stopping the Dec. 6 execution of Gary Haugen and urged Oregonians to "find a better solution" to a system that he said is arbitrary, expensive and "fails to meet basic standards of justice."

"In my mind, it is a perversion of justice," Kitzhaber said at a crowded news conference, his voice strained and uncharacteristically quavering at times. "I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer and I will not allow further executions while I am governor."

However, the state has not officially abolished the death penalty.

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