Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, just granted clemency to convicted murderer Clark Elmore. The confessed killer was sentenced to death for violently raping and brutally murdering a 14-year-old girl in 1995.
Clark Elmore choked Kristy Ohnstad, the daughter of his girlfriend, until she fell unconscious. He then stabbed her in the head with a skewer before beating her to death with a sledgehammer. The Washington governor has thwarted the carrying out of death sentences in his state over concerns capital punishment is not being applied fairly.
— Caleb Hutton (@bhamcaleb) December 30, 2016
The Washington Governor granted a death sentence reprieve to Clark Elmore on Thursday evening, the Daily Mail reports. Jay Inslee cited a “lack of clear deterrent value, high frequency of sentence reversal on appeal, and rising cost” of carrying out executions among his reasons for allowing Elmore to escape the death sentence handed down by a jury.
Governor Inslee publicly announced a moratorium on death penalty executions in his state in 2014. The governor claimed death sentences were being used in an inconsistent manner is various jurisdictions in Washington. Elmore is the first death row convict to exhaust all of his appeals in court since Inslee’s moratorium was issued.
Clark Elmore never denied raping and murdering the 14-year-old teenage girl after being caught by Washington police officers, the Bellingham Herald notes. He reportedly killed Kristy Ohnstad inside a van after the teenager threatened to report him to the police for abusing her when she was a younger child.
— KOMO News (@komonews) December 30, 2016
After Kathy Ohnstad went missing, Clark Elmore reportedly faked being in a state of grief. The convicted killer even helped to organize a search party to look for his girlfriend’s daughter. When Ohnstad’s body was ultimately found, Elmore initially attempted to flee. He reconsidered trying to run and turned himself in to Washington police officers.
Clark Elmore pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated first-degree murder. During the penalty and sentencing phase of the murder trial, a Whatcom County jury found no justification for showing Elmore leniency. On May 3, 1996, Clark Elmore was sentenced to die for his crime.
Even though he pleaded guilty to the gruesome murder, Clark Elmore has filed numerous appeals since being sentenced and sent to death row. The appeals to overturn his sentence failed each time they were heard by the court. The convicted rapist and murderer never disputed his guilt but claimed repeatedly his rights were violated during the trial because his attorney gave him poor advice and due to the jury seeing him wearing shackles in the courtroom.
The United States Supreme Court denied a request to hear his case in October. Just several weeks ago, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court also refused a request for a hearing. Elmore’s execution date was then set for January 19, 2017. Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran was among the many shocked to learn the man who raped and murdered a young teenager was going to escape the death sentence issued by the jury.
“I am disappointed that after 21 years of appeals, in which the sentence of death has been upheld by the highest courts in the state and the United States, the governor has derailed the sentence,” McEachran said.
Washington governor given a reprieve to Clark Elmore who was sentenced to death for raping murdering 14 girlhttps://t.co/69KjOIw1s8
— Yarad (@Yerek7) December 30, 2016
Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s office has stated the death sentence moratorium is not about Clark Elmore or individual cases.
“As he [Inslee] stated when he announced the moratorium in 2014, the action is based on the governor’s belief that the use of capital punishment across the state is inconsistent and unequally applied – sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred,” a statement from the Washington governor’s office said.
The statement from the governor’s office also revealed Kristy Ohnstad’s family reportedly preferred Clark Elmore spending the rest of his life in prison instead of being executed. He is still currently being housed on death row at the state prison in Walla Walla. Eight other convicted killers are housed inside cells alongside Elmore on Washington’s death row.
The death penalty moratorium will only remain in place as long as Jay Inslee is the Washington governor. It will be within the power of a future governor to cancel the death sentence reprieve of Clark Elmore or any other convict slated for execution. Inslee was re-elected to a new term in November.
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