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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Washington death-row inmate Dwayne A. Woods dies of cardiac arrest

Dwayne A. Woods
Dwayne A. Woods
Dwayne A. Woods was convicted in 1997 of killing two women in Spokane Valley.

One of the nine people on Washington state’s death row has died of cardiac arrest, while in a medical facility for a chronic illness, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Dwayne A. Woods, 46, sentenced to death nearly 20 years ago, died Sunday night at the Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, according to the Department of Corrections, which noted that he had been under observation for a chronic illness. The department news release gave no other details about his medical condition.

An autopsy will be performed, the news release said.

Woods, who was in the state prison in Walla Walla, was convicted in June 1997 on two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the killings of Telisha Shaver, 22, and Jade Moore, 18.

Shaver and Moore were raped and beaten on the head with a baseball bat in a Spokane Valley mobile home in April 1996, according to The Spokesman-Review.

The two women knew Woods, then 25, because he had been dating Shaver’s sister.

Gov. Jay Inslee in 2014 announced a moratorium on state executions, saying the way the death penalty is applied is too flawed to let more go forward.

Inslee last week signed a reprieve for Clark Richard Elmore, who had been convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter, Kristy Ohnstad, in Bellingham in 1995. Elmore will remain in prison for life. With his legal appeals exhausted, Elmore’s execution had been scheduled for Jan. 19.

Despite Inslee’s moratorium, executions are still part of state law, so any reprieves require that Inslee exercise his authority as governor.

No execution date had been set for Woods.

Source: Seattle Times, Seattle Times staff, January 2, 2017

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