Washington state's supreme court strikes down death penalty

Washington’s Supreme Court has declared that its capital punishment is applied “in an arbitrary and racially

The death penalty is not unconstitutional "per se", but it is "invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner", the state's top court unanimously ruled.

Former Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna said that a key understanding from the Supreme Court's ruling is that the death penalty was unconstitutional because of how it was applied in the state.

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. All nine justices signed one or both opinions.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat who imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2014, celebrated the ruling in a statement that called it a "hugely important moment in our pursuit for equal and fair application of justice".

The ruling means the state is "less capricious and less tainted by racial bias", Inslee said at a news conference. "Equal justice is a hallmark of democracy". Gregory was arrested two years later for a separate rape, and a blood sample obtained in that case tied him to the earlier murder through DNA analysis. Since 1981, despite approximately 300 aggravated murder convictions, prosecutors have sought the death sentence in only about 80 cases.

But the Supreme Court rejected that argument and relied on the study in its decision. The court ordered Allen Eugene Gregory's sentence, and the sentences of the other seven men on death row, converted into life in prison.

However, neither O'Bert or Peden said they were surprised by the Supreme Court ruling.

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But it was criticized by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights because Washington still has legalized abortion.

"Does this make Washington state pro-life?" "Only when it comes to saving the lives of serial rapists, serial killers and genocidal terrorists".

The eight people now on death row in the north-western state immediately had their sentences commuted to life.

There were 23 executions in the United States in 2017, down from a peak of 98 in 1999, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors USA capital punishment. It was the furthest any death penalty measure had gotten in the state Legislature after several years of effort. The bill went to the House, where it received a hearing and was voted out of committee, but never came to the floor for a full vote.

According to the opinion, the convicted murderer commissioned a study of racial bias and the death penalty that found "black defendants were four and a half times more likely to be sentenced to death than similarly situated white defendants".

"For example, the Green River Killer agreed to cooperate with the King County prosecuting attorney and ultimately admitted to more than 40 murders, helped prosecutor and the sheriff's office locate the remains of victims, and helped bring closure to victims' families by that cooperation and without the death penalty on the table might have have never agreed to that", McKenna said.

"He is a monster, he beat my mom until her head was unrecognizable onto cement steps", Trapp said. "I don't think we need to enshrine pure equality. Things don't work that way in the real world".

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