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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Clark: Execution for Yates is absolutely proportional

Last week’s run of Spokane crime news made the “Psycho” shower scene look almost subtle.

There was the hatchet attack on a homeless man by two other indigent men.

Police charged a man for assaulting his neighbor – with a machete.

Convicted killer Michael West Jr. was given a half-century behind bars for gouging out the eyes of a fellow prison inmate.

And just when I thought the landscape couldn’t get any uglier, the king cockroach showed up on Friday’s front page.

Robert Yates, I mean.

Cue the screeching violins.

It had been a while since Yates had invaded my mind. Putting such evil out of your thoughts is a normal defense mechanism, I’m guessing.

Yates is definitely the stuff of nightmares.

In 2000, he admitted to committing 13 murders in Spokane County, which earned him a sentence of 408 years.

What a monster.

Yates would cruise our streets at night in his van or white Corvette, preying on sad women who sold sex to strangers.

A bullet to the head was the only payment Yates gave to his victims before dumping their bodies in overgrown lots.

Here’s all you need to know about this sick freak:

Yates buried one of the women he killed right under the bedroom window of his South Hill home.

How unfortunate that a plea bargain spared Yates from the death penalty he deserved.

But this taker of lives wouldn’t find such generosity on the West Side. After earning convictions for two separate Pierce County murders, Yates was sentenced by a Tacoma jury to die, just like the people he preyed on.

Having a death sentence hanging over his head hasn’t set well with Yates.

He has been trying for years to change his fate, sometimes using a legal version of the childish finger-pointing comparison that every brat-in-trouble has used to avoid or lessen his punishment.

To paraphrase in kid-speak …

You can’t spank me cuz Gary didn’t get a spanking and, um, Gary did a whole lot badder stuff than me.

The role model in Yates’ “disproportional” argument, however, is Gary Ridgway, aka the Green River Killer.

It’s true that Ridgway made quite a plea deal, copping to 49 murders in exchange for life sentences.

Lord. You can easily get depressed thinking of the pain and anguish caused by these two.

But I remain an optimist.

To me, the lethal injection syringe is half full of poison, not half empty.

Let’s say 20 serial killers receive life sentences via plea deals and only Robert Yates winds up taking the forever dirt nap.

Yates would call that unfair.

I call it progress.

And I’m ecstatic to learn that our Washington Supreme Court views it this way, too.

That’s what put Yates on the front page last Friday.

The jurists shot down the serial killer’s latest legal ploy, ruling that Yates is not entitled to any review or hearing that could win him a new trial.

To quote from reporter Jim Camden’s fine story:

“ ‘Yates has failed to establish any meritorious claims,’ the majority decision, written by Justice Susan Owens, said in dismissing what is known as a personal restraint petition. …  Death penalty cases don’t require mathematical precision, Owens wrote.”

And so the hours crawl on for Robert Yates, who lives in a cramped death row cell at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

Sweet dreams, Robert.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or
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