View Full Version : Washington prepares for first execution since 2001

03-09-2009, 11:06 PM
WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) -- Cal Coburn Brown surprised investigators with his reply to this routine question at the end of a lengthy police interview: Anything else you want to tell us?

Brown - arrested in Palm Springs, Calif. for an attack on a woman at a hotel - answered with explicit details about how he had tortured and murdered a 22-year-old woman in the Seattle suburbs just days earlier. Her body was found in the trunk of her car.

Brown, 50, is scheduled to die for that murder on Friday, and would become the first person executed in Washington since 2001.Prosecutors point to the case as one befitting the death penalty, while opponents argue for leniency because of his mental condition.

"I've been in the prosecutor's office for 25 years, and I've seen a lot of shocking things. But looking at Cal Brown's sadistic torture spree, really it is about the worst case I've ever seen," said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

According to court documents, Brown suffers from bipolar disorder, but was not being treated at the time of the murder. Since 1994, prison staff have prescribed medication to control the condition.

Jeff Ellis, president of the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, concedes that Brown's crimes were vicious and brutal, but argues that Brown's mental illness should bar execution.

"There remains this unfortunate emotional reaction that people who are mentally ill are scary," he said. "That's one of the reactions to Cal Brown's case. His crime is terrible. He's a scary person, and he is scary because he is mentally ill."

Since 1904, 77 men have been put to death in Washington state. Brown would be just the fifth inmate executed since 1963.

His execution might be delayed. In a separate case, inmate Darold Stenson received a stay of execution in December after arguing that the state's lethal injection practices constitute cruel and unusual punishment. A hearing on that issue is scheduled for May, and Brown and another inmate have filed a similar complaint.