Governor grants reprieve in child killer's death sentence

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee granted a reprieve Thursday to a Bellingham man who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.

Inslee formally granted the reprieve to Clark Elmore on Thursday, and cited as reasons a “lack of clear deterrent value, high frequency of sentence reversal on appeal, and rising cost,” The Bellingham Herald reported (

In 2014, Inslee announced a moratorium on executions in Washington state. Elmore is the first of Washington’s death row inmates to exhaust his appeals.

Elmore killed his girlfriend’s daughter, Kristy Ohnstad, in a van south of Bellingham in 1995. He raped her, choked her, drove a metal skewer through her skull, beat her and dumped her body in the woods.


When Ohnstad’s body was found, Elmore fled before reconsidering and turning himself in to authorities. Elmore pleaded guilty as charged to aggravated first-degree murder. At the penalty phase, a Whatcom County jury found no good cause to show leniency. He was sentenced to death May 3, 1996.

Elmore has filed appeal after appeal since then, in hope of having his sentence overturned. He has never disputed his guilt. In October the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case, and weeks ago the U.S. 9th Circuit Court denied a rehearing. An execution date was set for Jan. 19.

The governor’s office says Inslee’s moratorium is not about individual cases and that Ohnstad’s family spoke with Inslee and expressed a…

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