New efforts under way to abolish death penalty in Washington

New efforts under way to abolish death penalty in Washington »Play Video
Photo shows the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Wash.
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- An effort to eliminate the death penalty in Washington has support from lawmakers and the families of local murder victims.

Our state has only put to death five people since capital punishment was reinstated in the mid-1970s -- Westley Allan Dodd, Charles Campbell, Jeremy Sagastegui, James Elledge and Cal Brown.

"I've come to believe that no one has the right to take another person's life for whatever reason," said Karil Klingbeil, whose sister Candy Hamming was murdered along with her bank teller partner Twila Kapron by Mitchell Rupe.

And Klingbeil has been a longtime advocate of the death penalty.

Rupe's trials and appeals stretched for 20 years.

"It's horrendous and it piles emotion on emotion each time that we had to hear how Candy died," she said.

After 30 years of supporting the death penalty, Klingbeil now sides with opponents, including the sponsor of a bill to abolish the death penalty, State Sen. Debbie Regala.

"I too had a family member that was murdered," Regala said.

Even thought the death penalty issue has been heard several years at the state legislature, it has never come out on the full floor for a vote. In fact, it's never been voted on in committee. But that could change.

"I think it has a chance," said State Sen. Adam Kline, who chairs the powerful judiciary committee.

But supporters of the death penalty say it's a deterrent to crime, and is useful as a bargaining tool like with Gary Ridgway and Terapon Adhahn who showed police where their victims were after the death penalty was taken off the table.

The Legislature opens its new session on Jan. 14.