News

Stenson execution delayed again

A broader challenge to the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection procedures has delayed the execution of former Sequim resident Darold R.J. Stenson that was postponed Dec. 3.

Sometime in May, a Thurston County Superior Court judge will hear a consolidated challenge of Stenson's case and that of Cal Coburn Brown said Dan Sytman, spokesman for the state attorney general's office.

The 50-year-old Brown was scheduled to die March 13 for kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering Holly Washa, a 22-year-old Burien woman, in May 1991.

The 56-year-old Stenson was scheduled to die Dec. 3 for the March 1993 murders of his wife and a business partner at an exotic bird farm near Sequim.

Stenson recently was granted a May hearing on the constitutionality of Washington state's lethal injection procedure.

His lawyers argued that the state revised its lethal injections procedure in October without announcing any changes or going through a public rule-making process.

In a 5-4 ruling on March 13, the state Supreme Court stayed the execution while Brown's case goes back to Thurston County Superior Court.

Brown's lawyers contended it would be wrong to execute Brown before the issues raised by Stenson were settled by the court.

Sytman said the two cases were consolidated because they deal with similar issues regarding the state's lethal injection procedure.

The policy changes at issue were adopted in October 2008, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Maria Peterson.

They include revising the drugs used for lethal injection, adding three practice sessions, removing the medical file review, revising the physical exam requirement, adding qualifications for those giving the lethal injection and removing the requirement to sign the death certificate before removing the body.



Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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