In February 2014, without notice, debate or public discussion, Jay Inslee announced he would refuse to carry out the state’s death penalty laws. Inslee said that if any death penalty case arrives on his desk, he would decline to act on it.
Well, more than a year later, the family of Lori Hamm—who was allegedly murdered by John Wayne Thomson in 2006 in Cowlitz County—is still asking Inslee to reconsider his decision. Last month, Jerry Ham (Lori Ham’s father) sent a letter to Inslee reminding him that he took “an oath to support and defend Washington’s constitution and laws.” That means allowing the death penalty sentences to proceed.
Jerry Ham also asked Inslee to provide the research he used to make his decision.
Rather than acting on his own accord, Ham’s family is asking Inslee to use legislative process to changing the law—if changes the law is what he wants to do. Jerry Ham wrote that Inslee’s decision was “not fair to my daughter and heartbreaking to myself, my wife and our family.”
Thomson is currently on death row in California, where he will likely remain for several years. He was sentenced after being convicted of murdering Charles Ray Hedlund in 2006. His execution has yet to be scheduled. In California, all death penalty convictions are automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court. Making matters more complicated, California currently has a moratorium on executions since 2006 when a federal judge ruled the state’s death penalty system as unconstitutional.
Former Cowlitz County Prosecutor Sue Baur had planned on returning Thomson to the county to face trial for the murder of Ham, that decision is now up to the current prosecutor. Thomson is also charged with murder in Spokane County. If the prosecutor decides to bring Thomson to Cowlitz County, his first-degree murder charge could be amended to qualify him for capital punishment.
It’s the prospect of Inslee’s death penalty ban getting in the way of Thomson’s death penalty charge that so troubles Ham’s family.