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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 25, 2008
Attorney General’s Office statement on two stays of execution in the case of Darold Stenson

OLYMPIA–Attorney General Rob McKenna made the following statement on the scheduled execution of Darold Stenson and two stays of execution granted today.

 Links
 

Attorney General's Death Penalty Site

 

Department of Corrections Capital Punishment Site 

“The expert attorneys in our corrections division have defended against appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As the execution date nears, they expect and are prepared to respond to the challenges presented by Stenson and his attorneys,” McKenna said. “We are committed to upholding the laws of the state of Washington and bringing this case to justice.”

Background:

Stenson was convicted on Aug. 11, 1994 for the shooting deaths of his wife, Denise Ann Stenson, and his business partner, Frank Clement Hoerner on March 25, 1993 in Clallam County.

Execution Date:

His execution is currently scheduled for Dec. 3, 2008, at the Walla Walla State Penitentiary. Despite today’s two stays of execution, the execution date remains scheduled for Dec. 3, 2008, but the execution will not occur unless both of the stays are lifted by 11:59 p.m. on that date.

If the execution date passes without an execution and the stays are then lifted, the law provides a mechanism to automatically assign a new execution date.

Current challenges:

  • Challenge to legal injection

Status: Stay granted. Execution date remains scheduled for 12/3/2008 unless the stay is not lifted by 11:59 p.m. on that date.

Facts: Stenson filed a complaint claiming lethal injection and hanging are unconstitutional in Thurston County Superior Court.  The Court held a hearing on Nov. 20, 2008. On Nov., 21, the court dismissed the hanging claim, but denied the motion to dismiss the challenges to lethal injection and rejected the request for a stay.  Stenson filed an emergency motion for discretionary review of the ruling on the stay with the Washington Supreme Court.

On Nov. 21, 2008, Stenson filed a civil rights action in the US District Court-Eastern District, challenging lethal injection.  The US District Court ordered a stay of execution on Nov. 25, 2008. The State will file an emergency appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

  • Challenging the date of execution

Status: Action denied, stay denied. There are no further proceedings in this action.

Facts: Stenson filed an action in the Washington Supreme Court challenging the statutory resetting of the date of execution as Dec. 3, 2008.  The Washington Supreme Court denied this action and denied a stay of execution.  There are no further proceedings in this action.

  • Fourth Personal Restraint Petition

Status: Motion pending.
 
Facts: Stenson filed a Fourth Personal Restraint Petition with the Washington State Supreme Court, alleging his execution violates the state and federal constitutions. The Washington Supreme Court denied the petition as barred, and denied a stay of execution.  Stenson has filed a motion for reconsideration.  The Court has directed the county prosecutor to file a response.  The motion remains pending.

  • Motion for DNA testing

Status: Motion granted, stay granted. Execution date remains scheduled for 12/3/2008 unless the stay is not lifted by 11:59 p.m. on that date.

Facts: Stenson filed a motion for DNA testing and a motion for discovery in the Clallam County Superior Court.  The court ruled on Friday, November 21, 2008, denying the motion for testing and denying a stay of execution.  Then the court reversed itself on Nov. 25, granting the motion for DNA testing and granting the stay. The Clallam County Prosecutor will decide whether or not to appeal.


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Contact: Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725

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