death penalty | KNKX

death penalty

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

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

A bipartisan effort to repeal the death penalty fell short in the Washington Legislature this year. But a separate effort to overturn the state's capital punishment statute through the courts is ongoing.

The constitutional challenge to the death penalty in Washington involves the case of Allen Eugene Gregory, 45, who was sentenced to die for the 1996 rape and murder of Geneine Harshfield in Tacoma.

In a vote unprecedented in modern times in the state of Washington, the state Senate voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty and instead impose life in prison without the possibility of parole for those convicted of aggravated first degree murder.

Momentum may be building to repeal the death penalty in Washington state. The Senate Law & Justice Committee is expected to pass a repeal measure—something that hasn’t happened in modern times. That follows an impassioned public hearing Monday.

The prosecutor of Washington’s most populous county is calling for the repeal of the death penalty. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg plans to testify Monday in favor of a proposal to replace capital punishment with life without the possibility of parole. 


When State Attorney Aramis Ayala, a Democrat, announced in March that she would no longer seek the death penalty in capital cases, Republican Gov. Scott took away more than 20 murder cases in her jurisdiction. Now, Ayala is suing Scott to get them back.

At issue is whether Gov. Rick Scott has the authority to remove cases from a state attorney who refuses to seek capital punishment.

The state Supreme Court is considering where the power resides.

Faced with an expiring supply of a controversial sedative, the state of Arkansas plans to execute eight men over 11 days — a pace that is unprecedented in recent U.S. history and that has been criticized by lawyers and former corrections officials.

The state is set to carry out the executions two a day on four days between April 17 and April 27. Multiple lawsuits have been filed over the schedule, citing concerns about the speed. Arkansas' governor and attorney general say the deaths will bring closure to victims' families.

A bipartisan proposal to repeal the death penalty in Washington state will get a hearing Wednesday morning. But the Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee said there’s no plan to hold a vote on the measure.

A bipartisan group of Washington state politicians Monday endorsed the abolishment of the death penalty. The group included the current Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his Republican predecessor Rob McKenna.

The pair were flanked at a capitol news conference by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and a half-dozen senators and representatives from both parties.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

What happens when the thing you’re called to do goes against everything you believe in? And what if a life hangs in the balance?

Frank Thompson is no stranger to fighting for his beliefs. He grew up in Arkansas at the height of the civil rights movement, living just blocks away from the Little Rock Nine, who helped integrate Little Rock Central High School. Thompson, himself, fought as a student to integrate the University of Arkansas. These experiences shaped him to his very core.

After an almost three-year, defacto moratorium, Ohio plans to resume executions in the new year, the state's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says.

Ohio has not put anyone to death since executing convicted killer and rapist Dennis McGuire in 2014. The state used a never-before-used combination of two drugs to execute McGuire, and it took him more than 20 minutes to die.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a black Georgia man convicted of murder by an all-white jury should have a new trial because the prosecution deliberately excluded African-Americans from the jury based on their race.

The court's decision reversed as "clearly erroneous" an earlier ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court, which had said the defendant had not proved racial discrimination in the selection of his jury.

The Oregon Supreme Court Thursday upheld the death sentences of a father and son convicted in the bombing deaths of two Oregon police officers in 2008. But with a moratorium on the death penalty still in place, it's unlikely the executions will be carried out any time soon.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Fifty-six former and retired judges in Washington state are urging the Washington Supreme Court to declare the death penalty unconstitutional. They signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in a case  being heard tomorrow in Olympia.

Prosecutors in Washington state want voters to decide in 2016 whether to keep or repeal the death penalty. It’s been 40 years since Washington voters last weighed-in on the death penalty. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says the time has come for voters to have another say on the subject.

A federal appeals court has upheld California's deliberative death penalty, which keeps prisoners on death row for decades.

Last year, a federal judge ruled that the long and dysfunctional process violated the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

As we reported at the time:

Alan Berner / Associate Press

 

A King County jury on Friday found Christopher Monfort guilty of aggravated first-degree murder for the 2009 shooting death of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton.

The jury of six men and six women now will move to the penalty phase of the case. After additional testimony set to begin on June 16, they will decide if Monfort should face the death penalty or life in prison.

 

The state currently has a moratorium on the death penalty.  Governor Jay Inslee has said no executions will happen in Washington State while he is in office.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Families of murder victims and opponents of capital punishment spoke out in support of a measure to abolish the death penalty in Washington, saying that a costly and drawn out appeals process only prolongs the pain of the crime.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Death penalty cases in Washington state cost the public one-and-a-half times as much as those where capital punishment isn’t on the table, Seattle University researchers have found.

The seven-month study was authored by Seattle University professors Robert Boruchowitz of the School of Law and Peter Collins of the criminal justice department.

Paula Wissel

Former state Sen. Debbie Regala says when her brother-in-law was strangled in 1980, her family had to ponder what they would want to have happen when the murderer was found.

She says she was angry, but in the end, it didn't change her long-standing opposition to capital punishment.

"Executing them doesn't make me feel any better. It doesn't bring them [the victims] back. It doesn't heal the terrible hurt that you feel," she said during an interview in her Tacoma home.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Family members of murder victims gathered in Olympia Wednesday to express anguish over Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to halt the state’s death penalty.

They testified before lawmakers considering curbs on the governor’s authority to grant reprieves. They told of their daughters and sisters, a mother, an aunt all taken cruelly from them. And they expressed outrage that they should be forced to pay, as taxpayers, for the killers to live.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

No one will be executed in the state of Washington as long as Gov. Jay Inslee is in office, the governor said Tuesday.

"Equal justice under the law is the primary responsibility of our state. And in death penalty cases, I am not convinced equal justice is being served," Inslee said.

The governor, who previously supported the death penalty, said he decided to issue the moratorium after a months-long review of strong arguments on both sides of the issue, as well as a visit to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla where nine inmates are currently on death row. But Inslee said his decision wasn’t based on just those nine people.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The next time a death row inmate is executed by lethal injection in Washington, witnesses will see more of the process. Washington’s secretary of corrections confirmed Wednesday that a closed-circuit camera will capture the moment the needle goes in.

Associated Press

The same jury that convicted a Monroe Reformatory inmate of aggravated murder for strangling a prison guard starts work Monday in Everett on the penalty stage of the trial to determine whether Byron Scherf will be executed.

Snohomish County jurors were told during the trial that the convicted rapist was already serving a sentence of life without parole in 2011 when he strangled Jayme Biendl in the prison chapel.

SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon judge says death row inmate Gary Haugen has the right to reject a reprieve from Governor John Kitzhaber. Circuit Court Judge Timothy Alexander's ruling Friday paves the way for a possible new execution date for the two-time murderer.

Gary Haugen dropped his appeals and said in court he wants to die. But last fall, just days before the scheduled execution, Governor John Kitzhaber issued a moratorium on executions.

SALEM, Ore. – Late last year Governor John Kitzhaber issued a moratorium that put on hold the execution of twice convicted murderer Gary Haugen. Now the death row inmate is asking a judge to overrule that reprieve. Haugen appeared in a Marion County courtroom Tuesday.

Kitzhaber said the purpose of his moratorium is to give Oregon time to debate the future of capital punishment. Attorneys for the state argued in court the reprieve is an unconditional benefit granted by the governor, that can’t be refused by an inmate.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Supreme Court has reversed the conviction and death sentence of Darold Stenson and called for a new trial in his double murder case. On an 8-1 ruling Thursday, the high court ruled that Stenson's rights were violated because the state "wrongfully suppressed" from the defense photographs that raised questions about mishandling of evidence as well as an FBI file. Stenson was sentenced to death in 1994 for the 1993 slaying of his wife, Denise, and a business partner, Frank Hoerner, at Stenson's Clallam County exotic bird farm.

The Associated Press

"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.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – The first inmate to be executed in Oregon since 1997 will have his hands wrapped in gauze to prevent any final obscene gestures. That's one detail that emerged Friday during a media tour of the state's execution chamber.

Associated Press

A Marion County judge ruled Tuesday that convicted killer Gary Haugen is competent to move ahead with his request to be executed. But so far, the execution has not been ordered.

Haugen wants to waive all his appeals to the death sentence and proceed to execution. But this summer, the state Supreme Court stopped execution plans and ordered the inmate be mentally evaluated.

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