OLYMPIA – About 30 people lined the steps of the state Legislative Building steps this evening to protest the impending execution of Cal Coburn Brown, the state’s first execution since 2001.
Brown was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. Friday at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla after the U.S. Supreme Court and state Supreme Court denied appeals to stop the execution Thursday. He was convicted in the 1991 rape, torture and murder of 21-year-old Holly Washa near Sea-Tac Airport.
Protesters said the government shouldn’t kill people, that the process is expensive and ensnares innocent people.
“The alternative that’s already the law is life in prison without the possibility of parole,” said Glen Anderson of the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation, which organized the vigil.
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“There is no point for the state to try to kill people.”
Anne Sunrise of Olympia also stood in opposition.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” she said.
Paul McCold, a criminologist, said he was experiencing “just terrible regret” that an execution could happen. He said society should be focused on holding criminals accountable, not punishing them.
Chuck Schultz of Olympia said “there are just so many things wrong with the death penalty that it’s hard to come up with any one thing.
“There’s the huge cost of death-penalty trials that should be spent on something to reduce crime. And the death penalty doesn’t reduce crime.”
He said he believes the death penalty will go away eventually, as it has in some states and most developed countries.
“When somebody is murdered, people get upset and they want to do something drastic about it,” he said. “They don’t understand that murdering the murderer is a bad act as well.”
In his appeals, Brown has claimed he’s incompetent because of mental illness. According to court documents, he suffers from bipolar disorder.
Brown was hours from being executed in March 2009 when he received a last-minute stay over the constitutionality of Washington’s lethal-injection policy.
The state since has changed its execution method from a three-drug cocktail to a one-drug injection.
“We have to stop the killing,” Anderson said. “Nobody should kill – not individuals and not government.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869, firstname.lastname@example.org