SEATTLE -- A King County Superior Court judge has rejected a request to stay Friday's scheduled execution of Cal Coburn Brown.
Judge Sharon Armstrong said Tuesday she was not persuaded by a defense argument that Brown is severely mentally ill. One of Brown's attorney's, Suzanne Elliott, has told The Seattle Times she plans to appeal Armstrong's ruling to the Washington State Supreme Court. His attorneys last week also filed an emergency motion with the state Supreme Court to stay the execution.
In addition to those actions, Brown is seeking a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. In their motion, defense attorneys allege that the U.S. District Court in Western Washington and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals erred in denying a stay.
Brown, 52, is scheduled to die by lethal injection early Friday for the 1991 torture and murder of 22-year-old Holly Washa, a Burien woman.
In his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown is challenging the state's new one-drug protocol for lethal injection, as well as the state Department of Corrections' authority to obtain that drug and the qualifications of the execution team.
Preparations for the execution at Washington State Penitentiary are continuing. A portion of State Route 125 leading past the prison will be closed starting at 10 p.m. Thursday. The closure is expected to continue through early Friday.
According to the Seattle Times today, an acquaintance who visited Brown recently at the prison said he remains hopeful he will be spared.
"He said it's not going to be over until it's really, really over," Judith Kay, an ethics professor at the University of Puget Sound, told the Times. "He's anxious and nervous but handling it well."
Kay said she visited with Brown at the penitentiary on Aug. 25. She said his only request was that she send him the latest copy of U.S. News and World Report's best-college rankings, since his dream in life was to become a college professor.
This is the second time in slightly more than a year that Brown has faced execution.
In March 2009 he was only hours away from being put to death when the state Supreme Court voted 5-4 to halt the process so Brown could join a lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection protocol. In July, the state Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the challenges to the lethal injection protocol and lifted the stay of execution for Brown.
If the execution is carried out, it will be the first one in Washington state since James Elledge was put to death in August 2001. It will be the fifth execution in the state since 1993 when Westley Allan Dodd was hanged, ending a 30-year hiatus on executions in Washington state.