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Updated: September 10, 2010 15:55 IST

Washington state executes first prisoner since 2001

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This undated file photo provided by the Washington State Penitentiary shows Cal Coburn Brown. AP.
This undated file photo provided by the Washington State Penitentiary shows Cal Coburn Brown. AP.

Washington state executed its first prisoner in nine years early Friday, killing by lethal injection a 16—year death row inmate who raped, tortured and murdered a woman in the Seattle area.

Cal Coburn Brown, 52, died at 12-56 a.m. PDT (1956 GMT), after a four—member team injected a lethal one—drug cocktail in the execution chamber of the Washington State Penitentiary as the father, brother and two sisters of his victim watched.

Brown carjacked Holly Washa, 21, in 1991 near Seattle’s Sea—Tac airport, robbing, raping and torturing her over a 36—hour period, and then strangling and stabbing her.

Brown protested sentencing disparities, saying that criminals who had killed many more people were serving life sentences while he received a death sentence.

“I only killed one victim,” he said. “I cannot really see that there is true justice. Hopefully, sometime in the future that gets straightened out.”

Brown had argued that his mental illness was not adequately considered during his sentencing and that it should bar his execution. According to court records, he suffered from bipolar disorder.

Brown did not apologize to the family of the victim, but said he understood their anger at him. He said he forgave that hatred, held no enmity towards them and hoped the execution would give them closure. He also said the prison staff had been most professional and that he had no complaints about his treatment there in 17 years.

After his comments, Brown, who was lying on his back strapped to a gurney, looked up at the tubes sticking out of the wall and connected to his body. When the drug was administered, his chest heaved three times and his lips shuddered, then there was no movement.

Brown’s attorney and members of his family were not present at the execution, though he spoke with them by phone on Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court, an appeals court, and the state Supreme Court on Thursday all rejected efforts to stay the execution. Gov. Chris Gregoire rejected his plea for clemency on Wednesday.

Brown confessed to killing Washa during an interrogation in California for an alleged assault on a woman there. He later led authorities to Washa’s battered body, which was inside the trunk of a car.

Brown, who is from San Jose, California, had a history of violence against women, including a 1977 conviction in California for assaulting a woman with a knife at a shopping centre. He also served 7 1/2 years, the minimum sentence, for assaulting another woman in Oregon in 1984.

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