Washington Gov. Jay Inslee suspends death penalty

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by ASSOCIATED PRESS, SHAWN CHITNIS, & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on February 11, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 12 at 9:53 AM

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Gov. Jay Inslee is suspending the use of the death penalty in Washington state.
 
The Democrat says he came to the decision after months of review and hopes his action will enable the state to join what he calls "a growing national conversation about capital punishment."

READ: Washington's capital punishment law
 
According to a draft statement obtained by The Associated Press, Inslee says the death penalty is applied inconsistently and unequally.

“Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility. And in death penalty cases, I’m not convinced equal justice is being served,” Inslee said. “The use of the death penalty in this state is unequally applied, sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred.”

READ: WA offenders sentenced to death penalty
 
The governor's staff briefed lawmakers about the move on Monday night and Tuesday morning.
 
Inslee's moratorium means that if a death penalty case comes to his desk, he will issue a reprieve, which is not a pardon and does not commute the sentences of those condemned to death.

Inslee stressed that the moratorium is not a show of mercy for the criminals awaiting execution.
 
“Let me say clearly that this policy decision is not about the nine men on death row in Walla Walla,” the governor said. “I don’t question their guilt or the gravity of their crimes. They get no mercy from me. This action does not commute their sentences or issue any pardons to any offender. But I do not believe their horrific offenses override the problems that exist in our capital punishment system.”

Currently, eighteen states have outlawed the death penalty and seven states have a moratorium imposed by the governor or the courts.
 

There were nine men sentenced to death in Washington State in February.  The Governor said there will be no executions during his term but none of those nine men will be released from prison.

Two of the nine men were convicted of murder in Eastern Washington. Governor Inslee said he talked with family members of victims, prosecutors and law enforcement before deciding to suspend the death penalty.

Dwayne Woods was sentenced to death for murdering two women in Spokane Valley in the late 1990’s.

Telisha Shaver’s mother thought Woods deserved to die in 2001. The mother of Jade Moore thought the same thing.

Sherry Shaver commented on the Governor’s decision and said she is mad and believes the justice system has failed her. Shaver wanted to witness Woods’ death in person.

"I want, if possible, to be the last person he looks at when he dies.  I want him to see from me 'go to hell you monster’,” said Shaver.

Another one of the nine men on the list to be executed in Washington State is Robert Yates. He received the death penalty for killing two women in Tacoma. He also killed 13 women in Spokane. Yates got a life sentence for the murders in the Spokane area.

There have been 78 men put to death since 1904 in Washington State.

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