Washington v. Gregory (Majority and Concurrence)Annotate this Case
In 1996, Allen Gregory raped, robbed and murdered a woman at her home. In 1998, he was investigated for another rape. In 2001, he was convicted for first degree murder and three counts of first degree rape. A jury recommended the death sentence. The sentence was reversed by the Washington Supreme Court, which found (1) the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during closing arguments in the penalty phase of the murder trial; and (2) the rape convictions were relied upon in the penalty phase of the murder case. A new jury was empaneled on remand and presided over a second special sentencing proceeding. The second jury also recommended the death sentence. With respect to the rape charges, the State determined a witness lied at the first trial, and moved to dismiss charges because of the inconsistent statements. The trial court dismissed the rape charges with prejudice. The issues this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review posited: (1) whether Washington's death penalty was imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner; (2) whether statutory proportionality review of death sentences alleviates the alleged constitutional defects of the death penalty; and (3) whether the trial court should have reconsidered arguments pertaining to the guilt phase of Gregory's trial. The Supreme Court determined precedent did not hold the death penalty was per se unconstitutional; the Court found it was imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner. "The death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate penological goal; thus it violates article I, section 14 of our state constitution."