Gonzaga University will host a celebration of the sacredness of life at 8:30 p.m., today (Tuesday) in Room 304 of College Hall (formerly the Administration Building) to rejoice in the stay of execution for 56-year-old Washington state Death Row inmate Darold Stenson.
On Monday, the Washington State Supreme Court denied the state’s appeal to lift the stay of execution. As a result, the state Department of Corrections canceled Wednesday’s scheduled execution. The execution date will reset when the stays are lifted. Two stays of execution were issued last week in this case – one from a federal court judge in Yakima and another from a Clallam County Superior Court judge.
The Washington State Clemency and Pardons Board also held a special hearing Monday (Dec. 1) in Olympia to consider a petition for Stenson’s clemency by the Washington State Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The board voted unanimously to postpone action on whether Stenson should be granted clemency, but pledged to hold an emergency hearing if the stays against his scheduled execution Wednesday (Dec. 3) are lifted.
The scheduled execution of Stenson had been moved to 8 p.m., Wednesday (Dec. 3) at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Stenson was convicted in 1994 of two counts of aggravated murder in the 1993 shooting deaths of his wife, Denise Ann Stenson, and a business partner, Frank Clement Hoerner in Clallam County.
The celebration of the sacredness of life is being sponsored by Gonzaga’s office of University Ministry along with Human Action (a Gonzaga students’ social justice program through the Center for Community Action and Service Learning) and Catholic Charities of Spokane.
The celebration, which is free and open to the public, also will address other threats to the sacredness of life, including the death penalty in general, abortion, war, domestic violence and others. A Mass in the University Chapel – located on the third floor of College Hall at Gonzaga – will begin after the celebration at 9:10 p.m.
For more information, contact GU philosophy Assistant Professor Ellen Maccarone at (509) 313-3955 or visit the state Attorney General’s Web site.