Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, denounced Gov. Jay Inslee’s Thursday reprieve of the death sentence for Clark Richard Elmore as a denial of justice and contrary to the governor’s stated reasons for imposing a death penalty moratorium. Elmore is guilty of the horrific 1995 rape and murder of 14-year-old Kristy Lynn Ohnstad of Bellingham.
“When Governor Inslee announced his moratorium on the death penalty, he cited the appellate costs, yet every appeal had already been exhausted in this case,” O’Ban said. “He complained that the death penalty wasn’t applied to the most heinous offenders, yet now we have the governor granting a reprieve to a man who raped and murdered a little girl. He said death sentences are not swift or certain, yet here he’s delaying the sentence of a man who didn’t even deny his own guilt. It’s baffling and irresponsible.”
In February of 2014, Gov. Inslee declared a blanket suspension of the death penalty in Washington state. At the time, O’Ban condemned the action as an abuse of the governor’s power and held a press conference surrounded by family, friends and coworkers of the victims of the men on death row. O’Ban sponsored SB 6566 in an effort to affirm the authority of the Clemency and Pardons Board, move the governor back toward individual consideration of cases, and ensure that victims, law enforcement and others are heard in the process.
“Governor Inslee is just throwing away the incredible efforts made by prosecutors to get justice for a 14-year-old-girl whose last moments were horror and pain.” O’Ban said. “It’s unimaginable. After 21 years of appeals and 21 years of admitted guilt, this child rapist and murderer gets mercy because the governor believes somehow the system is “broken.” Well it’s not the system that’s been broken here, but the public trust.”