Inmate killed two women in Spokane County in 1996
YAKIMA, Wash. — A federal court in Eastern Washington issued a stay of execution for a Washington inmate convicted of two Spokane County murders and scheduled to be executed next month.
Dwayne Woods had been scheduled to die March 20 at the Washington state Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Woods appealed last week, and U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko in Eastern Washington issued a stay Thursday while the appeal works its way through the courts.
Woods, 39, was convicted of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for the April 1996 slayings of Telisha Shaver and Jade Moore in Spokane County. During his trial, Woods did not admit to the killings, but asked jurors to sentence him to death.
Suzanne Elliott, his attorney, said the state was premature in announcing the execution date.
“It was pretty clear that Mr. Woods has innumerable remedies left in the federal courts,” she said. Asked about her client’s reaction, she said, “As you can imagine, it’s very stressful to be on death row.”
Woods wrote to Suko in late December, asking that his appeals be stopped, but changed his mind earlier this year.
Suko issued the stay to allow his attorneys time to file their appeals. Elliott declined to give specifics on what grounds Woods’ appeal would be based.
Another Washington inmate, Cal Coburn Brown, is scheduled to be executed in a separate case on March 13. Brown, 50, was convicted in 1993 of aggravated first-degree murder for the stabbing and strangulation of Holly Washa.
He carjacked the 22-year-old Burien woman at knifepoint near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 1991 and held her captive for 34 hours at a motel. She was raped, robbed, tortured and slashed to death, and her body was left in the trunk of her car.
Brown also has appealed his execution, along with death row inmate Jonathan Gentry, on grounds that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. Woods has not yet appealed his execution on those grounds.
No execution date has been set for Gentry who killed a 12-year-old girl in 1981 near Bremerton.
A court in Thurston County has scheduled a hearing in May on similar arguments made by inmate Darold Ray Stenson, who had been scheduled to be executed Dec. 3 until he received a stay.
The questions center not just on changes Washington has made to its lethal injection protocol, but also on the drugs that are used and whether the state Department of Corrections is obtaining them legally, Elliott said.
“I find it really hard to believe that any execution would go forward in this state when a judge has found there are material issues of fact on this question,” she said. “It’s not a painless process, much as they’d like to lead you to believe.”
Joni Aiyeku, penitentiary spokeswoman, said the state is still preparing for Brown’s execution on March 13.
We’ll move in whatever direction the courts tell us,” she said.