death penalty

Paula Wissel

Former state Sen. Debbie Regala says when her brother-in-law was strangled in 1980, her family had to ponder what they would want to have happen when the murderer was found.

She says she was angry, but in the end, it didn't change her long-standing opposition to capital punishment.

"Executing them doesn't make me feel any better. It doesn't bring them [the victims] back. It doesn't heal the terrible hurt that you feel," she said during an interview in her Tacoma home.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Family members of murder victims gathered in Olympia Wednesday to express anguish over Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to halt the state’s death penalty.

They testified before lawmakers considering curbs on the governor’s authority to grant reprieves. They told of their daughters and sisters, a mother, an aunt all taken cruelly from them. And they expressed outrage that they should be forced to pay, as taxpayers, for the killers to live.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

No one will be executed in the state of Washington as long as Gov. Jay Inslee is in office, the governor said Tuesday.

"Equal justice under the law is the primary responsibility of our state. And in death penalty cases, I am not convinced equal justice is being served," Inslee said.

The governor, who previously supported the death penalty, said he decided to issue the moratorium after a months-long review of strong arguments on both sides of the issue, as well as a visit to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla where nine inmates are currently on death row. But Inslee said his decision wasn’t based on just those nine people.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The next time a death row inmate is executed by lethal injection in Washington, witnesses will see more of the process. Washington’s secretary of corrections confirmed Wednesday that a closed-circuit camera will capture the moment the needle goes in.

Associated Press

The same jury that convicted a Monroe Reformatory inmate of aggravated murder for strangling a prison guard starts work Monday in Everett on the penalty stage of the trial to determine whether Byron Scherf will be executed.

Snohomish County jurors were told during the trial that the convicted rapist was already serving a sentence of life without parole in 2011 when he strangled Jayme Biendl in the prison chapel.

SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon judge says death row inmate Gary Haugen has the right to reject a reprieve from Governor John Kitzhaber. Circuit Court Judge Timothy Alexander's ruling Friday paves the way for a possible new execution date for the two-time murderer.

Gary Haugen dropped his appeals and said in court he wants to die. But last fall, just days before the scheduled execution, Governor John Kitzhaber issued a moratorium on executions.

SALEM, Ore. – Late last year Governor John Kitzhaber issued a moratorium that put on hold the execution of twice convicted murderer Gary Haugen. Now the death row inmate is asking a judge to overrule that reprieve. Haugen appeared in a Marion County courtroom Tuesday.

Kitzhaber said the purpose of his moratorium is to give Oregon time to debate the future of capital punishment. Attorneys for the state argued in court the reprieve is an unconditional benefit granted by the governor, that can’t be refused by an inmate.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Supreme Court has reversed the conviction and death sentence of Darold Stenson and called for a new trial in his double murder case.

On an 8-1 ruling Thursday, the high court ruled that Stenson's rights were violated because the state "wrongfully suppressed" from the defense photographs that raised questions about mishandling of evidence as well as an FBI file.

Stenson was sentenced to death in 1994 for the 1993 slaying of his wife, Denise, and a business partner, Frank Hoerner, at Stenson's Clallam County exotic bird farm.

The Associated Press

"I clearly wanted him dead. But I got smart."

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are considering a plan to save money by abolishing the death penalty in the state. That idea got a hearing in Olympia.

Karil Klingbeil testified in support of the ban. Her sister, Candy Hemmig, was murdered 30 years ago in Olympia. The killer, Mitchell Rupe was dubbed “the man too fat to hang.” He initially got the death penalty, but after 20 years of appeals, received a life sentence instead.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – The first inmate to be executed in Oregon since 1997 will have his hands wrapped in gauze to prevent any final obscene gestures. That's one detail that emerged Friday during a media tour of the state's execution chamber.

Associated Press

A Marion County judge ruled Tuesday that convicted killer Gary Haugen is competent to move ahead with his request to be executed. But so far, the execution has not been ordered.

Haugen wants to waive all his appeals to the death sentence and proceed to execution. But this summer, the state Supreme Court stopped execution plans and ordered the inmate be mentally evaluated.

Associated Press

On Tuesday, a judge in Salem, Ore., will hold a competency hearing for convicted killer Gary Haugen.

Haugen wants to waive all his appeals to the death sentence and proceed to execution. But his former lawyers have raised questions about his mental competency. Haugen spoke to a reporter by phone from prison. The widow of one of the people Haugen is convicted of murdering responded in a separate interview.

King County prosecutors have spent nearly $700,000 on two active death penalty cases, but the defense cost is even higher — $4.3 million and climbing.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg told The Seattle Times death penalty opponents are trying to hold off executions by running up the bills for investigators, forensics and expert witnesses.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe says he'll seek the death penalty if Byron Scherf is convicted of aggravated murder in the death of Monroe prison Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl.

In announcing his decision Tuesday in Everett, Roe said jurors "should have the opportunity of imposing the ultimate punishment if they see fit."

Biendl was strangled Jan. 29 in the prison chapel.