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Strength of the Evidence

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Last February, I noted a bizarre ruling out of King County, Washington (Seattle and vicinity), in which a trial judge said it was improper for a prosecutor to consider the strength of the evidence in deciding whether to seek the death penalty.  Utter nonsense.  Residual doubt should be, and is, considered by both prosecutors and juries.

Sara Jane Green reports in the Seattle Times on argument before the Washington Supreme Court yesterday:

A King County judge overstepped his bounds when he ruled that prosecutors can't seek the death penalty against the two people accused of killing a family of six on Christmas Eve 2007 in Carnation, the state Supreme Court was told Thursday.

King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor James Whisman argued that under the state's death-penalty statute, "discretion is placed with the prosecutor" to decide whether to seek capital punishment.
And of course the defense plays the race card:
Ross and her co-counsel argued in their brief that Satterberg has made six death-penalty decisions during his tenure, filing notice of intent to seek the punishment against McEnroe, Anderson and Monfort, who are all accused of killing "mainstream white people." He did* do so in the other cases, where victims included a lesbian, a gay man, an Asian child and a mixed-race baby, the brief says.

In their reply brief, Whisman and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Andrea Vitalich called the allegations "politically charged and specious." In all three cases where the death penalty was not sought, the defendants presented mitigating evidence, "including documented instances of mental illness predating their crimes," the brief says.

Outside the courtroom, Pam Mantle -- whose daughter Erica Anderson and grandchildren Nathan and Olivia were among those killed -- said the constant delays in the case have taken a toll.

"Everything has been put on hold. You just wait and wait and nothing happens," she said.

Update:  Watch the argument yourself at this link:
http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2013050009C

* So in original.  "Not" missing?

1 Comment

No "good" deed goes unpunished. The defense likely applauded the State not seeking death in the Ridgeway (Green River killer) case only to be called a racist by defense counsel when they decide a different case warrants death.

This is what I call a heads I win, tails you lose argument. It is in fact no argument at all, but dishonesty.

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