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Governor announces moratorium on executions

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SEATTLE — When 55-year-old Byron Scherf killed corrections officer Jayme Biendl at the Monroe Correctional Facility in January 2011, he was already a three-strike felon, serving life without the possibility of parole for crimes including multiple rapes and kidnapping.

DEATHSo once he was convicted, Biendl’s family began looking forward to his execution.

“I’ve been waiting 837 days exactly to hear those words that he’s got the death penalty and I’m going to continue to count until he’s finally dead,” Jayme Biendl’s sister, Lisa Hamm, said.

That count got indefinitely longer Tuesday when Gov. Jay Inslee announced a moratorium on executions in Washington.

“There have been too many doubts raised about capital punishment. There are too many flaws in the system and when the ultimate decision is death there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system and in accordance with state law, I have decided to impose a moratorium on executions while I’m Governor of the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

Inslee said equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility and the use of the death penalty here is inconsistent and unequal.

Before making the decision, Inslee said, he and his staff conducted a review and went inside the state prison in Walla Walla, where currently nine convicts sit on death row.

“We thoroughly studied the cases that condemned nine men to death. I went to the state pen at Walla Walla. I spoke to the men and women who work there. I saw death row and toured the execution chamber, where lethal injections and hangings take place,” Inslee said

But Inslee insists his decision has nothing to do with the nine people currently sentenced to die.

“I don’t question their guilt or the gravity of their crimes. They get no mercy from me. This action today does not commute their sentences or issue any pardons to any offender,” Inslee said.

No punishment can bring Biendl back, but for her family — and others — full implementation of a sentence can be the final step to closure.

Seventy-eight people have been executed in the state of Washington since capital punishment began here in 1904.

The overwhelming majority was white and the state has never executed a woman.

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  • Guest

    But kill all the innocent babies at will! Liberals are so crazy and insane. Jay you are a bleeding heart, soft on crime just like the rest of the liberal hippies in this stupid state. Liberals are the reason for all of the decay in our society.

  • Joe

    The disaster of the 70's is back on steroids, Obummer communism and incompetence to Jay Inslee the very best friend the worst of all criminals could have. He should just go give them a big group hug photo opportunity and say "We love you… sniff, sniff"…

  • Jessie

    The answer is to not abolish the death penalty but to fix the flaws. These monsters are guilty of committing the most heinous of crimes. They took innocent lives!! Why and how do they still get rights? They have no regrets on what they did. As a victims daughter of one of these monsters hands I am outraged. Most of them committed more crimes then just what they are on death row for. It might cost the people money only because the state gives them more chances then they deserve. Obviously Governor Inslee has never experience such a great loss and the need for justice to happen. The victims families shouldn't have to pay for them to sit in a jail cell where they have no worries of a roof over there head, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, clothes to wear, etc. They should be worried about how much time they have left to live. They shouldn't be able to just have an appeal cause they say they want that. We pay for the courts to go through the same thing to find them guilty again. They should have to have grounds before they file that appeal. This is sickening to the victims and their families and friends.

  • Guest

    I hope that bleeding heart liberal is a one term governor. The AG is also a bleeding heart pansy that used to defend death row inmates. When will this state wake up and realize that liberal democrats aren't the best thing just because they give you food stamps?