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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Judges stay Dec. 3 execution of Wash. inmate

Federal and state judges have indefinitely delayed the scheduled Dec. 3 execution of Darold Stenson for the 1993 shooting deaths of his wife and a business partner in Clallam County.

The separate stays were issued Tuesday by judges in federal court in Yakima and in Clallam County Superior Court.

U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko issued his order in a conference call with lawyers. State Attorney General Rob McKenna said his office was asking an appeals court to vacate Suko's order and allow the execution to proceed as scheduled.

Stenson's lawyers this week asked Suko for a temporary restraining order blocking the execution on the grounds that the state last month revised its procedure for administering lethal injections, without previously announcing any changes or going through a rule-making process.

Furthermore, they argued that their client has Type 2 diabetes with veins that are difficult to access, making it more likely that he would suffer pain that constitutes unlawful cruel and unusual punishment.

Without the judge's intervention, they argued, Stenson "will die at the hands of an unreviewed, untested, never-before-implemented lethal injection policy which is likely to cause him severe pain."

McKenna argued that Stenson is "using every means at his disposal to avoid execution." [Mark Godsey]

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