Washington Supreme Court Tosses Out State's Death Penalty

In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass at right, in Walla Walla, Wash. Photo: AP/ Ted S. Warren
In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass at right, in Walla Walla, Wash.

October 11, 2018 11:02 AM

Washington state's Supreme Court ruled Thursday ruled that the death penalty, as applied, violates its Constitution.

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

Advertisement

"Given the manner in which it is imposed, the death penalty also fails to serve any legitimate penological goals," the justices wrote.

Gov. Jay Inslee, a one-time supporter of capital punishment, had imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2014, saying that no executions would take place while he's in office.


More from KSTP.com:

Nebraska Carries Out First Execution Using Fentanyl

Pope's Death Penalty Decree Could Pose Dilemma for Catholic Politicians, Judges

Florida Seeks Death Penalty for Lois Riess


In a written statement, the Democrat called the ruling "a hugely important moment in our pursuit for equal and fair application of justice."

"The court makes it perfectly clear that capital punishment in our state has been imposed in an 'arbitrary and racially biased manner,' is 'unequally applied' and serves no criminal justice goal," Inslee wrote.

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.

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

In its ruling Thursday, the high court did not reconsider any of Gregory's arguments pertaining to guilty, noting that his conviction for aggravated first degree murder "has already been appealed and affirmed by this court."

Credits

The Associated Press

(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Advertisement

Exclusive: Video captures harrowing State Patrol pursuit covering nearly 60 miles

U of M study finds STI rates at all-time high among Minnesota youth

Residents near Allianz Field express concern over parking to St. Paul city leaders

Morning sun followed by showers, storms on Thursday

Racially motivated assault at Metro State University, no arrests made

Dominican AG: David Ortiz shooting result of mistaken identity

Advertisement