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This story has been modified since its initial publication to reflect a correction.

OLYMPIA — A bill to take the death penalty entirely off the books has been introduced by state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place.

Senate Bill 5339  was filed by Walsh and state Sen. Reuven Carlyle at the request of Attorney General Bob Ferguson. If passed, the legislation would allow only a sentence of life imprisonment without parole as the punishment for aggravated first-degree murder.

Joining Walsh and Carlyle were state Senators Karen Keiser, Marco Liias, Jamie Pedersen and Lisa Wellman. The bill has been referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

The state Supreme Court ruled in October that the death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner. The eight men on death row at Washington State Penitentiary have since had their sentences converted to life imprisonment.

Last year, a bipartisan majority in the Senate voted for the first time to repeal the death penalty. The legislation did not receive a floor vote in the House.

The latest execution was carried out on Sept. 10, 2010, when Cal Coburn Brown, 52, was put to death by lethal injection.

Andy Porter can be reached at or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.

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