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WA Senate Law & Justice Committee Heard Testimony On Bipartisan Bill to End the Death Penalty in Washington State

Posted Monday, March 26, 2018 by Lizanne Padula.

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Earlier this year the Senate Law & Justice Committee heard public testimony on a bipartisan proposal to end the death penalty in Washington state, and to replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole for those convicted of aggravated first-degree murder. Those testifying in favor of the bill included Attorney General Bob Ferguson, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, and families of murder victims.

There are currently two bills before the Washington State legislature to end the death penalty in our state. The 2018 Senate bill, SB 6052 and the House version, HB 1935, are for “Reducing criminal justice expenses by eliminating the death penalty and instead requiring life imprisonment without possibility of release or parole as the sentence for aggravated first degree murder.” You can follow the bills here and here to stay abreast of developments and updates.

According to a Seattle University study, seeking the death penalty in a murder case costs about $1 million more, on average, than a case where capital punishment is not sought. Due to the higher cost of pursuing capital punishment, there tends to be a concentration of capital cases in more affluent counties that have the economic resources to absorb the higher costs. Proponents of ending the death penalty argue that this fact contributes to the inequity of death penalty cases.

Currently under Washington State law, the death penalty can be sought in aggravated first degree murder cases. A person is guilty of aggravated first degree murder if he or she commits first degree murder (as defined by RCW 9A.32.030(1)(a)) and one or more of the following aggravating circumstances exist:

• The victim was a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, or firefighter who was performing his or her official duties at the time of the act resulting in death and the victim was known or reasonably should have been known by the person to be such at the time of the killing;

• The person committed the murder pursuant to an agreement that he or she would receive money or any other thing of value for committing the murder;

• The person solicited another person to commit the murder and had paid or had agreed to pay money or any other thing of value for committing the murder;

• The person committed the murder to obtain or maintain his or her membership or to advance his or her position in the hierarchy of an organization, association, or identifiable group;

• The murder was committed during the course of a drive-by-shooting. RCW 10.95.020.

And there are other aggravating circumstances that give rise to a charge of aggravated first degree murder under Washington State Law. The full list can be viewed here. Currently there are eight inmates on death row in Washington State.

If You Are Facing Criminal Charges

The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how important it is to defend your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense in Washington State. We know how to advocate for our clients and to pinpoint the weaknesses in the Prosecution’s case. For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving the people of King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State with aggressive and effective criminal defense.

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