Gov. Jay Inslee granted a reprieve Thursday to a Bellingham man sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.
A Whatcom County jury sentenced Clark Richard Elmore to death in 1996, for the killing of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter. Elmore raped Kristy Lynn Ohnstad in a van, choked her until she passed out, drove a metal skewer through her skull, beat her with a sledgehammer, and dumped her body in the woods. She was 14.
Over the past two decades Elmore has appealed to successively higher courts. In October the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case. An execution date was set for Jan. 19.
Inslee formally granted a reprieve Thursday. Two years ago earlier he had announced a moratorium on death sentences in Washington state.
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“Governor Inslee has been very consistent that his moratorium on the death penalty cases in Washington isn’t about individual cases,” reads a statement released Thursday by the governor’s office. “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.”
Prosecutor Dave McEachran met with Inslee last week to ask him to consider making an exception and allow the execution to proceed.
Kristy’s family spoke with Inslee, too, and “expressed a preference to see Elmore serve life in prison,” according to the governor’s office.
Elmore will remain at the state prison in Walla Walla, where he’s effectively serving a life sentence.
Inslee’s statement concludes: “The governor urges the state legislature to end the death penalty once and for all.”