Victim’s mother responds to decision to toss death penalty
SPOKANE, Wash. — The eight inmates on Washington’s death row may never be executed.
The state supreme court ruled Thursday the death penalty is unconstitutional and Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson held a press conference to voice their support for the decision.
“It is clear for equal justice that for the same crime, there ought to be the same penalty. The supreme court recognized that that was not happening in the state of Washington,” said Gov. Inslee. “The state’s supreme court decision today will stand as a beacon for equal justice in the state of Washington.”
The ruling came in the case of convicted rapist and murderer Allan Gregory of Pierce County.
The Washington Supreme Court wrote in a 58-page opinion the death penalty is invalid because it’s imposed unequally and in a racially biased way, drawing on a 2014 study that found black defendants were four and half times more likely to be sentenced to death than white defendants with similar charges.
“It is a system that is not fair,” Ferguson said. “It is a system that is racially disproportionate.”
But Sherry Shaver believes the decision is unfair to grieving families. Shaver told KXLY4 on the phone Thursday she was disappointed by and didn’t agree with the ruling.
“If I knew how to change it, I would,” Shaver said Thursday. “There’s nothing I can do.”
In 1996, Shaver’s daughters Venus and Telisha and their Jade Moore were brutally beaten with a baseball bat by Dwayne Woods. Telisha and Jade did not survive the attack and Woods was sentenced to death in 1997.
Relief turned to rage for Shaver that year, when Gov. Inslee announced he would suspend executions. Shaver and other grieving families banded together to fight the moratorium in 2014 by speaking to the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
“Do you think I would not have killed him myself? Then and there on the spot?,” Shaver asked the committee.
Shaver sat down for an interview with KXLY in 2014.
“I instantly went, ‘you’re kidding me’ and I just immediately burst into tears,” she said in response to Gov. Inslee’s decision. “We want it to be over. And it will be over, his rights, when he’s dead. It’s the only time.”
That time came last year when Woods died of a heart attack in prison. Even though he’s gone, Sherry said Thursday she feels for the families who are grappling with the loss of their loved ones while their killers live to see another day.
Her words from 2014 hold the same weight today.
“It’s a horrible feeling,” Shaver said then. “It’s like you’ve been betrayed.”
Attorney General Ferguson believes the eight inmates on Washington’s death row should have their sentences converted to life in prison. The court wrote in its opinion the legislature is open to come up with another form of execution that does not violate the constitution.
To read the court’s ruling, click here.
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