House Committee Takes No Action On Death Penalty Bill

By Patricia Murphy

A House Committee in Olympia took no action this morning (Wednesday) on a bill that would eliminate the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without parole.

Former Washington Governor Dan Evans endorsed the legislation but could not make the hearing. 16th District Democratic Representative Maureen Walsh read Evans statement to the committee.

Walsh: “I vowed not to allow any executions during my term as governor. The chance for error was too great and the cost too high. If the death penalty is no deterrent, is enormously costly and riddled with errors all that is left is revenge. Is that an appropriate goal for a civilized nation? I think not.”

Republican committee member Brad Klippert represents the 8th District. He has a background in law enforcement and questioned Representative Walsh about the statement she read.

Klippert: “Do you know if Governor Evans ever visited a heinous crime scene where someone been brutally and evilly and with all malice murdered, dismembered or executed. Did he ever witness one of those scenes and make this consideration?” You know representative Klippert I don’t know the answer to that question.“

Seattle Representative Reuven Carlyle is the prime sponsor of the bill and urged Judiciary Committee members to keep an open mind. Legislation that would abolish the death penalty has been introduced in previous legislative sessions with little success. The state has executed 78 men since 1904.

According to the State Attorney General’s office Jonathan Gentry is the death row inmate who is closest to execution. Gentry is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court but could be scheduled for execution in the summer or the fall. Gentry was convicted of murdering 12-year old Cassie Holden in 1988.
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