YAKIMA - A federal judge on Tuesday denied an appeal by Cal Coburn Brown, who is scheduled to be executed this month, and state officials continued preparations to carry out his sentence.
Brown was sentenced to death for the 1991 torture and murder of 22-year-old Holly Washa of Burien. He had challenged the state’s new one-drug protocol for lethal injection, as well as the state Department of Corrections’ authority to obtain that drug and the qualifications of the execution team.
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour in Seattle denied the appeal Tuesday, saying the questions raised by Brown already had been answered by other courts.
“Neither the family and loved ones of Ms. Washa nor the State of Washington can claim an interest in executing an innocent man, or a man convicted after an unfair trial,” Coughenour wrote in his ruling. “Plaintiff nowhere argues that he is innocent or that his trial was unfair, however.”
Brown’s attorney, Suzanne Lee Elliot, declined to comment.
Brown was convicted of carjacking Washa at knifepoint near Sea-Tac Airport. He robbed, raped and tortured the young woman before stabbing and strangling her.
“This ruling moves Mr. Brown closer to facing the verdict that a jury imposed on him,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said in a statement. “While he has confessed to his crimes, we anticipate Mr. Brown will continue to seek additional delays in the 9th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court, which we will contest as they occur as we seek justice for the victim, her family and the state.”
Last year, members of the previous execution team resigned, worried their identities could be exposed through the court’s examination of their qualifications and experience during a separate appeal of the state’s lethal injection protocol. At that time, the state’s method of lethal injection was a three-drug cocktail.
The state Supreme Court ruled that legal challenge was moot last month because the state switched to a one-drug system. The court also rejected claims that the state Department of Corrections lacks authority to establish execution policies under current law.
Corrections Department spokeswoman Maria Peterson said prison officials continue to prepare for the Sept. 10 execution, conducting required rehearsals of individual roles and responsibilities.