OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today made the following statement on Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham’s ruling in Stenson v. Vail, rejecting claims challenging the constitutionality of the Department of Corrections’ protocol for execution by lethal injection. The case impacts the pending executions of not just Darold Stenson, but two other Washington state death row inmates who joined the case, Cal Coburn Brown and Jonathan Gentry.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of these convicted murderers,” McKenna said. “Today’s decision clears a significant hurdle and brings us one step closer to carrying out the penalties unanimously set by the juries in these cases. My office will now ask the courts to remove the final barriers between these convicts and their final justice.”
“The State is pleased with the Court’s ruling,” said Assistant Attorney General John Samson, who along with Sara Olson, represents the Department of Corrections in these cases. “As the Court found, the Department of Corrections developed their protocol so as to implement lethal injection in a swift and humane manner, without the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, and the plaintiffs have presented no evidence that the Department will carry out the execution in a manner that will inflict cruel punishment.”
McKenna added that the state will arrange for entry of a judgment to start the time period by which the plaintiffs must file a notice of appeal, and the state will also ask the Washington Supreme Court to expedite any appeal in this case so as to avoid any unnecessary delay.
Defendants have 30 days from the date the judgment is filed to enter their appeal to the state Supreme Court. New dates of execution for each of the defendants cannot be set until their stays of execution are vacated. Once a stay of execution is vacated, the law automatically resets the date of execution for 30 judicial days.
Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725