February 17, 2014
The mother of a woman who was raped and murdered in 1996 has told of her fury after her daughter’s killer had his death sentence suspended by Washington’s democratic governor Jay Inslee.
Leola Peden, 77, whose daughter Genie Harshfield was murdered in Tacoma, says she is outraged by the decision to spare the life of convicted murderer Allen Eugene Gregory.
And she said Inslee had not bothered to speak to her before announcing he was suspending the sentences of all nine of the state’s death row inmates.
She said: ‘He’s absolutely wrong.
‘I don’t feel that my family and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren should clothe and feed Gregory and take care of all his health needs and dental care for the rest of his life.
‘Where is the justice in that?’
Announcing the decision yesterday, Inslee insisted the suspensions would stand for as long as he’s in office and said he hoped the move would enable officials to ‘join a growing national conversation about capital punishment.’
The first-term Democrat said he came to the decision after months of review, meetings with victims’ families, prosecutors and law enforcement.
He said: ‘There have been too many doubts raised about capital punishment, there are too many flaws in this system today.
‘There is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system.’
Last month the state Supreme Court rejected a petition for the release of Jonathan Lee Gentry, who was sentenced to death for the murder of a 12-year-old girl in 1988.
Gentry could have been the first execution in the state since September 201, when Cal Coburn Brown died by lethal injection for the 1991 murder of a Seattle-area woman.
A federal stay had recently been lifted in Gentry’s case, and a remaining state stay on his execution was expected to be lifted this month.
Inslee’s action is the latest of several state moves on the death penalty in recent years.
In Maryland, lawmakers last year did away with the death penalty, becoming the 18th state to do so and the sixth in six years.
Colorado’s governor last year decided to indefinitely stay an execution, saying he had concerns about the fairness of the system and would be unlikely to allow the delayed case to move forward while he was in office.
And Oregon’s governor in 2011 issued a moratorium similar to what is now in effect in Washington state.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the moves away from the death penalty show that support for capital punishment is waning.
‘The death penalty is being used less,’ he said.
Washington state hasn’t executed an inmate in more than three years. There have been seven inmates executed this year in the U.S., according to the Washington D.C.-based criminal justice nonprofit.