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Originally published Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Appeal seeks to block executions of 2 on death row

A Seattle attorney representing two convicted killers on Washington state's death row is appealing their executions, claiming lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Seattle attorney representing two convicted killers on Washington state's death row is appealing their executions, claiming lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

Attorney Gil Levy filed the joint appeal on behalf of Cal Coburn Brown and Jonathan Gentry this week in Thurston County Superior Court. Brown is scheduled to be executed next month. No date has been set for Gentry.

The appeal comes 2 ½ months after a U.S. District Court judge in Yakima issued a stay of execution for Darold Ray Stenson on grounds the state had revised its procedure for administering lethal injections without announcing changes or going through a rule-making process.

Stenson's execution date had been Dec. 3 but was delayed because of the federal court's stay and a second stay at the trial-court level due to new testimony in the case.

Levy said the drugs used in lethal injections are not administered by a physician or a nurse anesthesiologist. "No medical professional can do this because it violates the Hippocratic oath. You have untrained prison guards doing what a doctor should do," he said.

A Department of Corrections spokeswoman said a medical professional, not necessarily a doctor, can be on the team that administers the drugs.

Staff at the penitentiary in Walla Walla are preparing for the executions of Brown on March 13 and of Dwayne Woods on March 20.

Brown carjacked Holly Washa, 22, at knife point near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and held her captive for 34 hours at a motel. The Burien woman was raped, robbed, tortured and slashed to death. Her body was left in her car's trunk.

Woods was convicted in Spokane County in 1997 of two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for killing Telisha Shaver, 22, and Jade Moore, 18.

Gentry was convicted in 1991 in Kitsap County of fatally bludgeoning 12-year-old Cassie Holden near Bremerton in 1981.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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