Washington Death Penalty News

Started by Guest, April 08, 2006, 11:23:07 AM

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Barbara

I say ditto to that!  More smoke and mirrors!  I am so tired of the Perps getting the best of "Us", all they have is time on their hands and can research all kinds of "stuff" from the "Law Library" they have full access to!

In Prison?  These guys have more at the tips of their fingers than most of us.....Get on with it Washington.  Do the jobs your constituents elected you to do, PROTECT US FROM THESE AH/ POS/ SCUMBAGS.

Jeff1857

OLYMPIA -- Lethal-injection drugs administered by the state in carrying out capital-punishment sentences result in cruel and unusual punishment for the condemned, attorneys for three death-row inmates argued Thursday.

Two executions and the case of a third man on death row are on hold because of a civil suit challenging the state Department of Corrections' method of lethal injection. Defense attorneys said they are not arguing to save their clients' lives, only to change the type of heart-stopping medication given to the condemned and who administers them.

"This case is about suffocation and searing pain," said Seattle attorney Scott Englehard, who is representing death-row inmate Jonathan Gentry.

In their opening statements, the inmates' attorneys criticized the state's lethal-injection protocols for lacking supervision by state-licensed doctors and nurses and for insufficient training and medical expertise for the execution-team members.

Englehard honed in on the three-drug cocktail used by state execution staff, saying only one fatal drug should be used. That drug, sodium thiopental, is enough to end a life without the combination of the two other drugs, which often yield painful results, he said.

Assistant Attorney General Sara Olson countered by arguing that state protocols are in line with execution methods in Kentucky, whose system was upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The suit is being argued before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham, who is expected to release a decision sometime after the four-day trial.

The case is a combined lawsuit on behalf of three death-row inmates: Darold Stenson, who killed his wife and business partner in Clallam County in 1993; Cal Coburn Brown, who tortured and killed a Burien woman in 1991; and Gentry, who killed a 12-year-old girl in Kitsap County in 1988.

Stenson was to have been executed Dec. 3, but his case was stayed pending the lawsuit. In March, Brown was spared hours before he was supposed to enter the death chamber because of the lethal-injection argument.

Stenson, who is spearheading the case, testified Thursday over a Web camera from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. In his testimony, Stenson focused on his health problems and how the veins in his arms are difficult to find. Stenson said he has diabetes and has to have blood drawn from his hands.

Washington mimics many states by using the three drugs in the death chamber. Sodium thiopental, the first drug, is a high-powered barbiturate used for anesthesia. The second drug, pancuronium bromide, paralyzes the muscles with a suffocating effect. The third, potassium chloride, stops the heart.

Englehard said the three grams of sodium thiopental given by executioners is enough to kill but takes longer to take effect without the other drugs. The defense attorneys told Wickham their concern with potassium chloride is that it can cause tremendous pain if the inmate is still conscious.



Concerns over the three-drug cocktail, as well as questions about executioners' medical training, has been heard in courtrooms across the country.

Stenson's defense attorney Sherilyn Peterson grilled Washington State Penitentiary Superintendent Stephen Sinclair on Thursday about the training of execution staff and his own medical training. Sinclair, who has worked in a number of prison positions over the past 20 years, testified that he determines if the inmate being executed is unconscious after the first drug is injected.

Last month, the four-member team responsible for administering lethal injections to death-row inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary resigned out of concern that their identities could become public as part of the Thurston County court case. Sinclair testified Thursday that he has identified several people who could be part of the state's execution team.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009249742_deathpenalty22m.html?syndication=rss

63Wildcat

This will continue to get picked apart, and will take years to straighten out. Why not use 5 grams instead of 3.  ???
"..the death of any public servant or innocent is a tragedy... the death of a murderer is a mere statistic..."  -63Wildcat

AS OF TOMORROW I'M TURNING GRAVITY OFF...

heidi salazar

Judge says execution by lethal injection is legal

By RACHEL LA CORTE, Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A judge has affirmed Washington state's procedures for executing prisoners by lethal injection, turning aside complaints that condemned inmates could be partially conscious when fatal drugs flow into their veins.

In a ruling released Friday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham said that the inmates presented no evidence that the state "intended to impose punishment that was 'cruel."'

"The procedure to be used by defendants, although not fail-safe, appears to have been designed to administer the death penalty in a way that is humane for the inmate and the observers," Wickham wrote. "It is an attempt to provide some dignity to this most grave event."

The inmates are likely to appeal the ruling. A message left with one inmate's attorney Friday morning was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit, filed by three death-row inmates, argued that Washington's preferred method of execution needs a major overhaul to satisfy constitutional bans on cruel punishment.

The lawsuit did not seek to end the death penalty in Washington. Instead, the inmates' lawyers asked the state to trade its current mix of three intravenous drugs for a large dose of one powerful sedative - an approach that plaintiffs said would kill a condemned prisoner with virtually no risk of pain or suffering.

Attorneys for the state countered that Washington's lethal injection system passes constitutional tests because it is substantially similar to a Kentucky system upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Washington, like roughly three dozen states, performs lethal injections by administering successive doses of three separate drugs. The chemicals are intended to render a condemned prisoner unconscious, then paralyze the person's body, and, finally, stop the inmate's heart.

The lawsuit, however, argued that Washington's lethal injection procedures are so sloppy and inconsistent that inmates might be partially conscious when fatal drugs flow into their veins. If that happened, the condemned person could be subjected to suffocation and excruciating pain.

The lawsuit alleged a long list of shortcomings in the state's lethal injection methods: No supervision by doctors or nurses, inadequate training and rehearsals for the execution team, and lack of medical qualifications for everyone involved.

At trial, lawyers for the state said the lawsuit essentially demanded "a perfect execution." But the state said prison officials were not required to prove that execution procedures would be followed in a flawless manner that eliminated all risk of pain.

Moreover, the similarities between Washington's policies and those of Kentucky - including the requirement of some medical training or experience for the execution team - are strong enough to prevent a substantial, intolerable risk of harm, the state said.

The state also rejected the plaintiffs' argument that the Washington Constitution offers a stronger protection against cruel punishment than the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment.

The case is a combined lawsuit on behalf of three death row inmates: Darold Stenson, who shot his wife and business partner in Clallam County; Cal Coburn Brown, who tortured and killed a Burien woman; and Jonathan Gentry, who killed a 12-year-old girl in Kitsap County.

Washington death row inmates may opt for hanging instead of lethal injection. The state's last execution was the lethal injection death of James Elledge in 2001.

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/50475187.html

63Wildcat

They'll appeal of course... I'm patient.. they'll get it eventually.
"..the death of any public servant or innocent is a tragedy... the death of a murderer is a mere statistic..."  -63Wildcat

AS OF TOMORROW I'M TURNING GRAVITY OFF...

Jeff1857

This is good news!! I THINK with this dismissal by the judge execution dates may be set again. I'm not sure of the status of the execution team however.

heidi salazar

THE OLYMPIAN | Published July 20, 2009

Three inmates on Washington's death row took another step closer to execution recently when Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham ruled that the state's lethal injection procedures are constitutional.

Attorneys for the three condemned inmates say they will appeal Judge Wickham's decision to the Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court, so Washington residents are not likely to see an execution anytime soon.


But heightened public awareness of these cases prompts a question: Isn't it time Washington residents be asked if they still support capital punishment? After all, it has been 34 years since Washington voters last had their say on this life-and-death issue.


On the November 1975 general election ballot was Initiative 316 which asked whether the death penalty should be mandatory for aggravated murder in the first degree. A resounding 69.1 percent of the voters said "yes" to capital punishment. The vote margin in Thurston County was 19,737 in support, 8,398 opposed.


Fewer than 1 million voters cast ballots in that election. Compare that with last year's presidential election when nearly 3 million votes were cast. Clearly, the state has millions of new residents who have not been asked their views on capital punishment. They deserve a say on such an important social and ethical issue.


OUT OF THE NEWS


The imposition of the death penalty has not been in the news in recent years in Washington state. Lethal injection is the prescribed method of death, but inmates may choose hanging. The last hanging was of Charles Campbell in May 1994. The state's last execution was the lethal injection death of James Elledge in 2001.


After that interest peaked in November 2003 when Gary Leon Ridgeway, the "Green River Killer," pleaded guilty to the murder of 48 women. He entered a plea in exchange for King County prosecutors taking the death penalty off the table. Ridgeway is serving life in prison without the possibility of release.


Victim rights advocates were sharply critical of prosecutors saying if ever there was a case warranting execution it was the case of the Green River Killer.


Defense attorneys representing clients in other murder cases with far fewer victims have pointed to the Ridgeway case and asked why their clients should be subjected to death when Ridgeway was not held to the same standard for 48 murders.


CLOSE TO DEATH


Capital punishment was back in the headlines in March of this year when the state Supreme Court intervened in the case of Cal Coburn Brown, who was within hours of execution. The court stayed Brown's execution based on a case brought by Darold Stenson, another death row inmate who challenged the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection procedures. Stenson's attorneys said the lack of training by staff and inadequate lethal injection safeguards constituted cruel and unusual punishment which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.


It was the Stenson case that was before Judge Wickham. The outcome of the case affected both the case of Brown and a third murderer, Jonathan Gentry. Stenson shot his wife and business partner in Clallam County; Brown tortured and killed a Burien woman; and Gentry killed a 12-year-old girl in Kitsap County.


In his ruling, Judge Wickham said, inmates for the three men presented no evidence that the state "intended to impose punishment that was 'cruel.' " Wickham said the method of execution was constitutional under both the state and U.S. constitutions.


"The procedure to be used by defendants, although not fail-safe, appears to have been designed to administer the death penalty in a way that is humane for the inmate and the observers," Wickham wrote. "It is an attempt to provide some dignity to this most grave event."


While attorneys for the three murderers promised an appeal, Attorney General Rob McKenna moved forward to have Brown's stay of execution vacated.


"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of these convicted murderers," McKenna said. "Today's decision clears a significant hurdle, and brings us one step closer to carrying out the penalties unanimously set by the juries in these cases. My office will now ask the courts to remove the final barriers between these convicts and their final justice."


While the courts continue to wrestle with the legal issues, it's time Washington residents be consulted on their views of capital punishment -- either through the citizen-driven initiative process or through a constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature.


Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have joined Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and others without a death penalty statute. Do Washington residents want to add this state to that list? It's time they were asked.

http://www.theolympian.com/opinion/story/915374.html

JT

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have joined Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and others without a death penalty statute.

The residents of those nations have never had a say in whether or not capital punishment should be retained.  Indeed, France is the only country in that list where polls do not suggest a majority of the people want the death penalty reinstated.  Britain, Canada and Australia all have large chunks of the population who wish to see murderers hanged.  Canada has not dropped anybody since 1962, Britain hasn't since 1964 (disregarding hangings conducted in the British Virgin Islands, which continued until 1988), and Australia hasn't since 1967.  When the death penalty was abolished in these nations, polls suggested that their respective governments were flagrantly disregarding public opinion.  The government of Washington State should not follow the example set by these nations.
JT's Ridiculous Quote of the Century:
"I'm disgusted with the State for even putting me in this position."
-- Reginald Blanton, Texas death row.  As of October 27, 2009, Reggie's position has been in a coffin.

heidi salazar

Bill proposes abolishing Wash. death penalty

OLYMPIA, Wash. --

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would abolish Washington state's death penalty, though its own sponsors acknowledge it's a long shot.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard public testimony on the measure Friday. Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, is sponsoring the bill and told the committee that the death penalty is ineffective, expensive, unequal and inhumane.

No opponents of the bill testified at the hearing.

"There's a debate that's not being heard here," said Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, the chairman of the committee who is a co-sponsor of the bill. Opponents "may have a case to be made, but they need to come make it."

It seems unlikely that the death penalty elimination would pass the Legislature this year. Kline said he realizes the bill does not have a strong chance to be passed this session, but it's an issue he will keep addressing.

"I'm not going to give up," Kline said. "We will get there, but it may not be in my lifetime."

Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, said after Friday's hearing that he would vote against the bill because he believes it is not what murder victims would want.

"This is not something that the people of my district would want me to be party to," he said.

Supporters of the bill focused their testimony on the state's current $2.6 billion budget deficit, and said money spent on death penalty cases far exceeds that which is spent on people sent to prison for life.

"Change is necessary to protect our communities, but we are in time of economic crisis," said Jeff Ellis, a former president of the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and a Seattle attorney who defends those on death row.

In 2006, the state Supreme Court narrowly rejected a constitutional challenge of the death penalty.

Eight men are on the state's death row.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010867657_apwaxgrdeathpenalty1stldwritethru.html?syndication=rss

Moh

APNewsBreak: WA changes execution method
By RACHEL LA CORTE (AP) - 1 day ago
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state has changed its method of execution from a three-drug cocktail to a one-drug system, according to paperwork filed Tuesday with the state Supreme Court.
The filing by state Attorney General Rob McKenna reveals that the state made the decision last Thursday. It wants the high court to dismiss portions of the appeal of death-row inmate Darold Stenson, arguing that a challenge of the drug protocol's constitutionality is now moot.
The state Department of Corrections is in the process of rewriting the execution policy that will make Washington the second state in the nation to use the one-drug method.
Ohio switched in January after the botched execution of Romell Broom that was halted by Gov. Ted Strickland in September. Executioners unsuccessfully tried for hours to find a usable vein for injection, and Broom has appealed the state's attempt to try again.
Ohio has executed three men under the new method.
The three-drug method uses sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Only sodium thiopental, followed by a saline flush, is used in the one-drug policy. Under the amended policy in Washington state, an additional 5 grams of sodium thiopental will be made available at the time of execution in case the first dose does not kill the inmate.
The motion filed with the court Tuesday said the decision to amend the protocol was made in light of both Ohio's use of the method and "the opinions of experts who have advised the Department."
The new policy will change the presumed method for lethal injection to the one-drug protocol, but the three-drug injection method will be allowed for inmates who request it.
"The Department maintains that the three drug protocol is constitutional," the motion reads.
Stenson, who shot his wife and business partner in Clallam County, is one of three death-row inmates suing Washington state, arguing that its preferred method of execution needed a major overhaul to satisfy constitutional bans on cruel punishment.
Also suing are Jonathan Gentry, who killed a 12-year-old girl in Kitsap County, and Cal Coburn Brown, who tortured and killed a Burien woman.
Last March, the state Supreme Court stayed the execution of Brown just hours before he was set to die. McKenna filed for a lift of that stay after a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled last July that the state's lethal injection procedures were constitutional.
The stay will remain in place while the appeal process continues.
In prior filings, the state argued that Washington's three-drug lethal injection system passed constitutional tests because it was substantially similar to a Kentucky system upheld in 2008 by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Before deciding to switch to the one-drug method, Washington, like roughly three dozen states, had performed lethal injections by administering successive doses of three separate drugs. The chemicals are intended to render a condemned prisoner unconscious, then paralyze the body, and, finally, stop the heart.
Washington death-row inmates may opt for hanging instead of lethal injection. The last hanging was of Charles Campbell in May 1994. The state's last execution was the lethal injection death of James Elledge in 2001.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j69zEbN4JUxthH4R--Vty0eZyPQQD9E6QQ1O1

63Wildcat

Now if they'll just use it... which I highly doubt.
"..the death of any public servant or innocent is a tragedy... the death of a murderer is a mere statistic..."  -63Wildcat

AS OF TOMORROW I'M TURNING GRAVITY OFF...

heidi salazar

WA Supreme Court to hear death penalty debate

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the state's execution process.


OLYMPIA, Wash. --

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the state's execution process.

Thursday morning, the high court will hear debate on whether one aspect of a lawsuit filed by a death row inmate who is challenging the constitutionality of death penalty procedures is now moot because of a recent change made by the state Department of Corrections.

Earlier this month, the state revealed that it was changing its method of execution from a three-drug cocktail to a one-drug system.

The court will also consider whether the department has the authority to draft execution policy and whether lethal injection violates federal laws because a doctor doesn't obtain or administer the drugs.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011373880_apwascowdeathpenalty.html?syndication=rss

63Wildcat

This will take another 10 years.  :-\
"..the death of any public servant or innocent is a tragedy... the death of a murderer is a mere statistic..."  -63Wildcat

AS OF TOMORROW I'M TURNING GRAVITY OFF...

Rick4404

At least, Washington State has a fallback. Hanging. I assume if Washington State's lethal injection protocol were ever to be held unconstitutional, they could still execute their death row inmates by hanging instead.

63Wildcat


At least, Washington State has a fallback. Hanging. I assume if Washington State's lethal injection protocol were ever to be held unconstitutional, they could still execute their death row inmates by hanging instead.


IF they ever get them to the death chamber.
"..the death of any public servant or innocent is a tragedy... the death of a murderer is a mere statistic..."  -63Wildcat

AS OF TOMORROW I'M TURNING GRAVITY OFF...

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