March 13, 2009 in City

Supreme Court stays execution set for today

Rachel La Corte Associated Press

OLYMPIA – The state Supreme Court stayed the execution of Cal Coburn Brown on Thursday, just hours before he was to die for the murder of a 22-year-old woman.

Brown, 50, was scheduled to die by lethal injection early this morning at the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla for the 1991 slaying of Holly Washa.

In a 5-4 ruling, the high court, led by Justice Charles Johnson, stayed the execution while Brown’s case goes back to Thurston County Superior Court, where another Washington death row inmate, Darold Ray Stenson, was recently granted a May hearing on the constitutionality of Washington state’s lethal injection policy.

Brown’s lawyers contended that it would be wrong to execute Brown before the issue was settled by the court.

“I am incredibly grateful the Supreme Court has granted us this stay,” said one of Brown’s attorneys, Suzanne Elliott. “It was the right thing to do.”

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