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Gov. Inslee halts execution for Whatcom murderer Clark Elmore

A woman was taken into custody after allegedly threatening Washington state Governor Jay Inslee. (AP)

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has issued a reprieve for convicted murderer and rapist from Whatcom County, Clark Richard Elmore.

Inslee issued the reprieve for Elmore, who is currently in the Walla Walla State Penitentiary. He has been sentenced to death after standing trial for a rape and murder that happened in the ’90s. Elmore was found guilty of raping his ex-girlfriend’s daughter and then murdering the teenager. Since then he has exhausted every appeal available to him. He was sentenced to be executed on Jan. 19, 2017.

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Gov. Inslee stepped in, however, and issued a reprieve Thursday.

According to the governor’s office:

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.

Gov. Inslee has opposed the death penalty since he came into office and has said he would not allow any executions to happen while he is governor. The governor’s office also stated:

Governor Inslee has been very consistent that his moratorium on the death penalty cases in Washington isn’t about individual cases. As he stated when he announced the moratorium in 2014 the action is based on the governor’s belief that the use of capital punishment across the state is inconsistent and unequally applied – sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred … The governor urges the state legislature to end the death penalty once and for all.

Washington’s capital punishment laws have put to death 110 people in the state’s history. There are currently nine men on death row, including Elmore, in Washington.

The Elmore case

KIRO 7 reports that Elmore told police in a taped confession that he attacked Christy Ohnstad, 14, when she threatened to report him for molesting her when she was younger. Elmore raped and killed the teenager before dumping her body near Lake Samish. He criticized law enforcement for doing too little to find the missing girl. He even organized a search party to look for her.

Elmore eventually fled to Oregon where he attempted to use the identity of his twin brother. Six days after the murder, he traveled back to Bellingham where he turned himself in to police.

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