|Death penalty struck down by Washington Supreme Court, taking 8 men off death row|
|By seattletimes.com- Christine Clarridge and Lewis Kamb|
Washington’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional Thursday, ruling the state’s 37-year-old capital-punishment law is “invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”
The court’s ruling in the appeal by convicted murderer Allen Eugene Gregory means he and seven other men now on Washington’s death row for aggravated-murder convictions will have their death sentences commuted to terms of life in prison without a chance for parole.
Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst, writing for the court’s majority, said the court concluded that the state’s death penalty violates Washington’s constitutional prohibition on “cruel punishment” and “lacks fundamental fairness.” The opinion cited a recent statistical analysis of capital-murder cases by University of Washington sociologists that found significant “county-by-county variations” in death sentences, and that black defendants are about four times more likely to get the death penalty in Washington than white offenders.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT