Stenson execution put off indefinitely

The scheduled Dec. 3 execution of former Sequim resident Darold R.J. Stenson was put off indefinitely on Dec. 1 after the Washington State Supreme Court refused to lift a stay of execution granted by a Clallam County Superior Court judge.

A new execution date won't be set for at least 90 days but since the denial was granted "without prejudice" the state could refile its request to lift the stay within that 90 days, said Dan Sytman, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.

Stenson, 56, had been scheduled to be executed Dec. 3 for the 1993 murders of his wife and a business partner in Clallam County until two separate courts issued stays to the execution.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Williams granted the stay after hearing that a former inmate said another man told him that Stenson was not guilty and had been framed.

The state also has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to lift a stay of execution granted by U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko in Yakima.

That stay was granted after attorneys argued that the state revised its lethal injections procedure in October without announcing any changes or going through a public rule-making process.

"So the execution won't occur on Dec. 3; it will reset in the future once the stays are lifted," Sytman said.

The Coalition Against Capital Punishment has filed a petition with the Washington State Clemency and Pardons Board to recommend that the governor commute Stenson's sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Sytman said the board decided Monday morning not to have a formal hearing on the petition until all the stays are lifted.

When the stays are lifted, the board will hold an emergency meeting if necessary, he said.

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