Olympia, Washington - Washington State Governor Jay Inslee granted a reprieve to Clark Elmore only weeks before he was scheduled to die after being convicted of raping and murdering 14-year-old Christy Ohnstad in 1995.
In a taped confession Clark Elmore confessed to attacking 14-year-old Christy Ohnstad after she threatened to report him for molesting her when she was younger. Elmore then raped, and murdered Christy Ohnstad before then dumping her body by Lake Samish.
Elmore fled to Oregon with the intention of assuming his twin brother's identity, but returned 6 days after the murder to turn himself in to police. Clark Elmore was set to be executed in less than a month after being on death row for 21 years with all of his appeals having been exhausted.
Only weeks prior to Elmore's scheduled execution Governor Jay Inslee, who is against the death penalty, arbitrarily intervened in an effort to halt Clark Elmore's execution by way of issuing a reprieve. Governor Jay Inslee's actions came against the wishes of many who were and are close to details of this horrifying case.
A reprieve is when someone's punishment is canceled or postponed and is typically an action used in death penalty conviction cases for a variety of reasons. This case, however, appears to have no reason for a reprieve as all appeals have been exhausted as of October 2016 when the United States Supreme court declined to hear the appeal. This seemed to spur Governor Jay Inslee to act independently, and against the wishes of many, including Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran who went to Olympia last week to try to persuade Inslee not to grant Elmore a reprieve, to no avail.
Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran issued a statement to KIRO 7 News about Governor Jay Inslee's reprieve that read:
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. The Governor has expressed his concern about the application of the death penalty on issues that the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of the statute. His power to issue a respite must be for good cause and not just an unwillingness to allow a death sentence to proceed. I don't believe his stated reasons constitute good cause. I find his pronouncement and justification disappointing.
Governor Jay Inslee also provided a statement that read in part:
Under state law, Article III, Section 9 of the Washington Constitution and RCW 10.01.120, the governor is granted the authority to issue reprieves — or stays of execution— and, consistent with his intent to issue a moratorium on death penalty executions, Governor Inslee has issued a reprieve in Clark Elmore’s case. This action does not commute Mr. Elmore’s sentence nor issue a pardon and he will remain in the State Penitentiary in Walla Walla for the rest of his life. In recent weeks the governor spoke with the Whatcom County prosecutor, who asked the governor to reconsider his position, as well as the victim’s family who expressed a preference to see Elmore serve life in prison.
Governor Jay Inslee's statement failed to provide any valid points for which to grant this child-killer a reprieve. The Governor did, however, thoroughly describe his authority to take such action under Washington state law. This authority to grant a reprieve in such a vile death row case leaves many to wonder why Governor Jay Inslee has placed himself in a position that gives the appearance of being sympathetic to a confessed child rapist and killer.
Do you think there is any validity to Governor Jay Inslee's reprieve? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
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