State Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty as “Racially Applied”
Saying it was applied in an arbitrary and racially biased manner, the Washington State Supreme Court Thursday struck down the state's death penalty, something Gov. Inslee has been trying to do for several years.
The court ruled the penalty is not applied equally, but depends upon where the case is tried, the race of the defendant and where the crime took place. They said it also depends upon if the county has the funding to pursue such a penalty.
In doing so, the court stuck down the 1996 conviction of Allen Eugene Gregory, who was convicted of a rape, robbery and murder of a woman in her Tacoma home. He was arrested two years later for a different sexual assault, and DNA linked him to the 1996 murder. He was convicted in 2001, and a jury in a separate proceeding said there was no reason to merit leniency and he was sentenced to death. A re-trial for sentencing again gave him the penalty.
This is the fourth time the state court has ruled the penalty as unconstitutional, violating the State's Constitution.
However, it has had widespread legislative and citizen support. The legislature passed a bill in 1981 reinstating it, and previously in 1975 voters passed it as well. Since 1904 78 men and -0- women have been executed, the most recent was in 2010.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he will ask the legislature in 2019 to remove the death penalty and replace it with life in prison.