Death sentence not common outcome in Clallam County cases


Sequim Gazett
When the death penalty is imposed, a defendant has several options for appeal, including filing a challenge in federal court.


Additionally, Washington state law mandates the state Supreme Court conduct a four-part review of every death sentence and the defendant cannot waive that review.


Since 1904, a total of 78 people have been executed in Washington. Only one person from Clallam County, 54-year-old Ralph Carson executed in 1939, is on that list, according to the state Department of Corrections.


Convicted of the 1983 murders of a Clallam County couple, Patrick Jeffries was sentenced to die but a federal appeals court struck down the death sentence due to juror misconduct. Under an agreement, Jeffries pleaded guilty to the murders and in return Clallam County prosecutors agreed not to seek a death penalty. He was re-sentenced  to life in prison and died in 2006.


County prosecutors unsuccessfully sought the death penalty against Charles Dean Bingham, who murdered a disabled woman in Sequim in 1982. Bingham was sentenced to life without parole and he remains incarcerated at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.


Darold Stenson, convicted in the 1993 murders of his wife and business partner in Sequim, received the death sentence but had his conviction overturned by the Washington State Supreme Court on May 10, 2012, after 18 years of appeals. He remains incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.


Clallam County prosecutors also considered seeking the death penalty in the case of Richard Morgan, who shot and killed his two young children in 1996. Morgan pleaded guilty to murder and received a sentence of life in prison in 1997. He remains incarcerated at the Monroe Corrections Center.


There currently are seven inmates on Washington’s death row and the last execution was in September 2010.


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