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Washington Supreme Court Says Death Penalty Violates State Constitution

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
In this Sept. 7, 2016, file photo, Justices on the Washington state Supreme Court listen during a hearing in Olympia, Wash.

The Washington state Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty violates the state Constitution.

The ruling Thursday makes Washington the latest state to do away with capital punishment. The justices said the "death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner." They ordered that people currently on death row have their sentences converted to life in prison.

Gov. Jay Inslee, a one-time supporter of capital punishment, had previously said no executions will take place while he's in office.

The ruling was in the case of Allen Eugene Gregory, who was convicted of raping, robbing and killing Geneine Harshfield, a 43-year-old woman, in 1996

Gregory's lawyers said the death penalty is arbitrarily applied and that it is not applied proportionally, as the state Constitution requires.