Gregoire rejects request to change death sentence
OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire will not commute the sentence of Cal Brown for the torture, rape and murder of Holly Washa.
Brown is scheduled to be executed early Friday by lethal injection, barring action by the U.S. Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court denied a stay of execution by an 8-1 vote Wednesday.
Gregoire, who under the state Constitution has the authority to change a death sentence to life in prison without parole, said Wednesday afternoon she wouldn’t do that. After the Clemency and Pardons Board split 2-2 on whether to recommend commutation, she said she reviewed the case and “found no basis to reverse his conviction or change the death sentence imposed by the jury.”
There are no extenuating circumstances or flaws in the judicial process, she said. Although Brown, who is bipolar, has asked for a commutation based on the diagnosis of his mental disorder, the jury heard that evidence and took it into account, she added.
Brown confessed to the 1991 crimes, which occurred over a two-day period in a Sea-Tac Hotel. He was convicted in late 1993 and sentenced in early 1994.
In Spokane, death penalty opponents will gather for a nondenominational service and vigil tonight in opposition to the execution, the first in Washington state since 2001. The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, a sponsor of the protest, says studies have shown that capital punishment does not prevent crime, is racially discriminatory and costs more than life imprisonment.
The service begins at 7:30 p.m. at Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W. Broadway Ave., and continues with a candlelight vigil at the Spokane County Courthouse, 1116 W. Broadway Ave., until confirmation of the execution.