In a unanimous ruling the Washington Supreme Court today abolished the death penalty saying that the death penalty, as applied, violates the state Constitution.
The ruling held that the eight people currently on death row have their sentences converted to life in prison. Five justices said the "death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner."
Attorneys for Allen Eugene Gregory, who was convicted of raping, robbing and killing Geneine Harshfield, a 43-year-old woman, in 1996, prevailed in court. His legal team argued the death penalty is arbitrarily applied and that it is not applied proportionally, as the state Constitution requires.
The high court did not reconsider any of Gregory’s arguments pertaining to guilt, noting that his conviction for aggravated first degree murder “has already been appealed and affirmed by this court.”
"Given the manner in which it is imposed, the death penalty also fails to serve any legitimate penological goals," the justices wrote.