By Mark Berman October 11, 2018
The Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down the death penalty there as unconstitutional and “racially biased,” a ruling that makes it the latest in a string of states to abandon capital punishment in recent years.
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“The death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner,” the justices wrote. “While this particular case provides an opportunity to specifically address racial disproportionality, the underlying issues that underpin our holding are rooted in the arbitrary manner in which the death penalty is generally administered.”
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The opinion in Washington was issued in a case that has lingered in the criminal justice system for more than two decades, centering on a man sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Geneine Harshfield in July 1996.