Victims' families upset over death penalty moratorium



Posted on February 27, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 27 at 9:08 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Families upset over Washington’s moratorium on the death penalty showed up to the State Capitol Wednesday in support of a bill that would prohibit the governor from suspending executions in the future.

WATCH: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee suspends death penalty 

Several family members of murder victims spoke in support of Senate Bill 6566.  The measure was introduced after Gov. Jay Inslee said earlier this month he was suspending the use of the death penalty in Washington state for as long as he remains in office.

The bill would prohibit a future Washington state governor from issuing a death penalty reprieve until after receiving a recommendation from a state Clemency and Pardons Board.

READ: WA offenders sentenced to death penalty

Republican Sen. Steve O'Ban sponsored the bill. He said Inslee committed a new form of injustice by failing to consult with the families of victims and prosecutors before making his decision.

"He's taken that closure away from our families by doing so," said one victim’s relative at Wednesday’s hearing.

Sherry Shaver was another who spoke out in favor of the bill.  Shavers’ 22-year-old daughter, Telisha, and another young woman were murdered inside a Spokane Valley mobile home in 1996.  Shavers told KREM 2 News more than a decade ago she wanted to be the last person her daughter’s convicted killer, Dewayne Woods, would see before he was put to death.

"Why do the convicts get privileges and our families do not?” Shavers asked Wednesday.  “Governor Inslee, what you are doing is wrong."

Shaver said she now fears Woods will never be put to death, and sees Gov. Inslee’s moratorium as a slap in the face - a victory for her daughter’s killer.

"I don't want revenge, I want justice," said Shaver.

Gov. Inslee said he did, in fact, consult with some families before suspending the death penalty. 

READ: Washington's capital punishment law

Under the bill Shaver and others support, however, a Washington governor would be under no legal obligation to follow a board’s recommendation concerning the death penalty.