An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Judges Wrangle Over Death Sentence Which Will Not Be Carried Out

For years now, state and federal courts have tied themselves in knots trying to decide if a Spokane man, Dwayne Woods, ought to be put to death for two brutal murders in Spokane Valley in 1996. But whatever the final decision is, Woods won't be executed any time soon.

Woods was found guilty of two counts of aggravated first degree murder in the beating deaths of two young women, and of the brutal beating of another woman as the four partied together in a Spokane Valley house trailer in 1996. After he was convicted, Woods told jurors to order him put to death, because there were no mitigating circumstances to merit leniency.

Since then, however, Wood's lawyers have filed one appeal after another, seeking to have state and federal courts overturn the death sentence. The case went to the Washington Supreme Court, to federal courts, and even up to the U-S Supreme Court which instructed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider one of its prior rulings.

In the years following Woods' conviction, judges have parsed and dissected every element of his trial, including the state's handling of DNA evidence, whether he was mentally fit to stand trial, and even the dying declarations of one of the murder victims. At least one federal appeal court judge has had enough of the legal wrangling. Judge Richard Tallman wrote that the only purpose of - as he put it - this endless litigation, is to delay for years the 17-year old judgment properly obtained against a murderer who asked the jury to impose the death penalty.

Ironically, even if Woods' death penalty is finally upheld, he won't be executed for several years at least.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has suspended the death sentence while he's in office.

Related Content