OLYMPIA, Wash - The monumental ruling by the Washington State Supreme court to abolish the death penalty came down to race.
“The court has affirmed that the Washington death penalty system has been arbitrarily and racially biased,” Governor Inslee said.
With that belief, governor Inslee suspended all executions back in 2014.
“If you are a white guy you get one penalty and if your African American you get one penalty,” Inslee said.
Eight men were sitting on death row in Washington state.
Five are white, 3 are black and all convicted of horrendous crimes.
But it was inmate, Allen Gregory who in 2016 brought his case to the State Supreme Court saying the legal system is rife with racial inequities.
Gregory was convicted for a 1996 rape and murder of a Pierce County Woman.
After years of litigation and research, nine State Supreme Court Justices unanimously siding with Gregory ruling that Washington’s death penalty is unconstitutional.
“This decision cannot be appealed to the United States Supreme court this is a final decision by our State Supreme court,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.
But there are many including Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist who believe a decision of this magnitude should have been left to the public.
“Our laws should reflect the will of the people especially a law with this moral significance, therefore, the people of Washington should vote on whether or not the death penalty is inconsistent with our values,” Lindquist said.
But the State Supreme Court ruling now means it is final and no chance for the issue to go on the ballot according to Lindquist.
Lindquist also pointed out that the judicial system and many prosecutors have been leaning away from death penalties to begin. It explains why the 8 men have been sitting on death row combined for more than 100 years.
“It’s exponentially more expensive to litigate a death penalty case,” Lindquist said.
But for many victim’s families, it’s often not about the cost nor even revenge, it’s about justice.
“It’s devastation, it’s disappointment so hard to explain,” Jessie Trapp said.
Trapp says she is devastated because 1 of 8 men who were on death row killed her mom.
Jane Hungerford-Trapp was 45 years old when she was viciously beaten to death by Cecil Davis in 1996. Davis got a life sentence for Trapp’s murder.
But he received the death penalty for murdering another Tacoma woman, 65-year-old Yushiko Couch.
Davis robbed, raped and murdered Couch in front of her disabled husband.
Trapp’s daughter says it is a slap in the face for the governor to point out that all of the 8 men would still die in prison.
“Everyone is going to die anyway that’s not giving justice saying you did this wrong and final justice, it should be something more drastic than living their lives and waiting for them to die,” Trapp said.
Trapp called Davis a monster saying for her it’s not about race but the crime.
“He is a monster, he beat my mom until her head was unrecognizable onto cement steps,” Trapp said.
Trapp says the men on death row all committed heinous crimes and they should get the death penalty.
She says if racial inequity is the issue she wants the system fixed instead of abolishing capital punishment.