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Witness View Of Brown Execution

Patricia Murphy

Convicted murderer Cal Coburn Brown was pronounced dead at 12:56 a.m., executed by the state of Washington. The family of his victim, Holly Washa, traveled from Nebraska and South Dakota to be there. Four of them chose to watch the man who brutally raped, tortured and murdered her die by lethal injection. KUOW's Patricia Murphy was one of seven media witnesses allowed into the execution chamber at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla and filed this report.


It took the media witnesses longer to walk the path to the execution chamber than it took for Cal Brown to die once the lethal dose of sodium thiopental was administered.

Inside we sat directly in front of the chambers large viewing window. The shade was drawn. To the left of us sat two of Holly Washa's sisters, her brother and father. Also with them, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

The family showed no emotion as the shade was raised to reveal Brown dressed in an orange jump suit, strapped to a gurney, and covered to his neck by a green sheet.

Two intravenous lines could be seen running from Brown's arms through a panel in the wall. The only other person visible in the room with Brown was Prison Superintendent Stephen Sinclair who sat level with the table.

The condemned looked first at the media witnesses then to the family before looking to ceiling and closing his eyes for a moment seemingly resigned to his fate.

Superintendent Sinclair held a microphone to Brown's mouth for last words.

Brown sounded relaxed as he told the Washa family that he understood their hatred for him. He wished them closure but never apologized for his actions.

Brown talked about the professionalism of the staff at the state penitentiary. Then railed against what he called the disparity in the application of capital punishment.

A subpar speaker system and Brown's occasional mumbling made some of his statement difficult to understand. Finally he said thank you, god bless you, god bless my family.

Brown again closed his eyes briefly.

With that Sinclair gave an almost imperceptible nod and presumably the fatal dose was administered.

Brown's chest heaved three times; he exhaled deeply, then no movement.

It took about a minute and a half. The curtain was drawn.

A few moments later Brown was pronounced dead. He is the 78th man to be executed in Washington.

I'm Patricia Murphy, KUOW News.

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