Green River Case Unsettles Death Penalty In Wa.


Green River killer Gary Ridgway is locked up for life in a Washington state prison, but the fallout from the plea bargain that spared his life may haunt local prosecutors, reports the Los Angeles Times. Attorneys for three men in two other murder cases have filed motions citing the fundamental unfairness of pursuing the death penalty against their clients after prosecutors agreed not to execute Ridgway in exchange for his cooperation. Ridgway admitted killing 48 women.

“The nation’s worst serial killer isn’t facing death, and my client – a [then] 18-year-old from a disadvantaged background who killed one person – is facing death,” defense attorney Rita Griffith said. “It just shows how totally arbitrary the death sentence is.” Griffith’s client is charged with killing a police officer. She wants a judge to declare the death penalty unconstitutional. Prosecutors say Ridgway case has no bearing on Griffith’s.

North of Seattle, in Snohomish County, lawyers for two men charged with aggravated murder of an 18-year-old woman cited a similar fairness argument in winning a delay. “I think we’re going to find a lot more motions like this in death penalty cases by defense attorneys,” said David Nichols, a Superior Court judge. “By definition, almost anybody else is going to be a lesser criminal than Gary Ridgway. The question is whether it’s fair to spare Ridgway and not spare someone who by definition committed a lesser crime.”


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