SPOKANE, Wash. - Washington Govenor Jay Inslee's decision to suspend executions of death row inmates has prompted a new senate bill, introduced by State Senator Steve O'Ban of Tacoma that has gained the support of the families of murder victims whose killers are on death row.
Three of the nine men on death row are from Spokane: Byron Scherf, who killed prison guard Jayme Biendl, Spokane serial killer Robert Yates, who killed 13 people, and Dwayne Woods, who beat two Spokane women to death.
Families of their victims are joining O'Ban to show Inslee his decision is not in favor of the victims. The bill will require Inslee to gather input from the state clemency and pardons board before signing a reprieve that would halt executions.
"Everyone here sees a name, but they don't get faces. This is Telisha," Sherry Shaver said.
Shaver is Telisha Shaver's mother; Telisha was one of two women beaten to death in 1997 by Dwayne Woods. She addressed the Senate Law and Justice Committee pleading on behalf of her daughter.
"I actually chased this person who did this to those girls. Had I been able to catch him … You are parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. Do you think I would have not killed him myself right then and there on the spot? Would you have if it were one of your children? Well I didn't have the opportunity so I have trusted all these years my government and judicial system would do this for me. There is never closure," she said.
Ed Oster's daughter, Sunny Oster was one of Robert Yates' victims, and he stood in front of the committee asking why did Yates deserve to live.
"My daughter is in the ground. She has two children and grandchildren that will never ever see her," Oster said.
After each person spoke, O'Ban asked them one question: "Did the governor contact you before he made his decision?"
Each replied with a firm no.
O'Ban believes by not speaking to all the victims is a clear demonstration of what's wrong with the governor's decision.
A representative of Inslee's office told the committee the governor has spoken to at least one victim's family to her knowledge and will likely speak to more. O'Ban said he is hopeful the bill will pass, however just because Inslee will have to get input from the state clemency and pardons board doesn't mean he is required by law to accept it.