State executes Cal Coburn Brown by lethal injection

September 9, 2010 

State executes Cal Coburn Brown by lethal injection

Becky Washa (right) wipes a tear, as Karen Washa (left) holds a photo of their sister Holly, as they talk to reporters at the Washington State Penitentiary, Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, in Walla Walla, Wash., shortly after Cal Coburn Brown was executed about an hour past midnight for the 1991 murder of Holly Washa.


WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — Convicted killer Cal Coburn Brown was executed early Friday by lethal injection for the rape, torture and murder of a Seattle-area woman, in Washington state's first use of capital punishment in nine years.

Prison officials say Brown, 52, died at 12:56 a.m. PDT, after a four-member team injected a lethal one-drug cocktail in the execution chamber of the Washington State Penitentiary.

The father, brother and two sisters of his victim, Holly Washa, 21, witnessed the execution, as did King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

Brown’s attorney and members of his family were not present at the execution, though he spoke with them by phone on Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the state Supreme Court on Thursday all rejected efforts to stay the execution. Gov. Chris Gregoire rejected his plea for clemency on Wednesday.

Brown had argued that his mental illness was not adequately considered during his sentencing and that it should bar his execution. According to court records, he suffered from bipolar disorder.

Brown confessed to killing the 21-year-old Washa during an interrogation in California for an alleged assault on a woman there. He later led authorities to Washa’s battered body, which was inside the trunk of a car.

He met Washa near Sea-Tac airport in Washington when he helpfully pointed to Washa’s rear tire, indicating a problem. When she stopped to check it out, he carjacked her at knifepoint.

For the next 36 hours, Brown robbed, raped and tortured Washa, before stabbing and strangling her.

“His demeanor — that’s what struck us. And his lack of remorse,” said Lt. Al Franz of the Palm Springs police department, one of the investigators who first interviewed Brown in California.

“This is a violent individual, and he was just very, very calm while he was telling his story,” Franz said. “The lack of remorse was pretty incredible to me. The way he spoke about his victims, they weren’t people to him.”

Brown, who is from San Jose, Calif., had a history of violence against women, including a 1977 conviction in California for assaulting a woman with a knife at a shopping center. He also served 71/2 years — the minimum sentence — for assaulting another woman in Oregon in 1984.

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