Wa. High Court Considers Death Penalty Fairness

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Attorneys for a triple murderer urged the Washington Supreme Court yesterday to overturn the man’s death sentence — and the state’s death penalty itself — now that the Green River killer’s life has been spared, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. They argued that although Dayva Cross’ crime of stabbing his wife and two stepdaughters was awful, serial murderer Gary Ridgway’s lengthy string of calculated slayings of young women was much worse. It was the first time the state’s highest court has heard arguments on whether Ridgway’s controversial plea deal last year should change whether killers who have taken far fewer lives can fairly be executed. Todd Maybrown, representing Cross, said, “The fact that the worst offender in the state doesn’t face the death penalty must make this court re-evaluate.”

King County prosecutors maintained that Ridgway’s case was “unique in the history of the state of Washington” and can’t be compared with Cross’. Ridgway’s deal left him facing life in prison — and some analysts wondering if it might put an end to capital punishment in Washington. Under state law, justices must compare aggravated murder cases to decide whether a death sentence “is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty in similar cases” by considering the defendant and the crime. The court has interpreted this to mean that it must ensure a death sentence has not been imposed “wantonly and freakishly.”

Link: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/179131_cross23.html

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