Friend of Cal Brown's victim remembers Holly Washa


by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

Posted on September 8, 2010 at 5:56 PM

SEATTLE -- Cal Brown, a murderer on death row, is running out of options.  His execution is scheduled just after midnight Friday.

Meantime, a friend of his victim, Holly Washa, has been waiting almost two decades to see justice.

"She had the biggest blue eyes," said Kim Bowen, who said the 22-year old moved to Washington to pursue her dream of being a flight attendant. "She just had this great strength about her, coming straight off a farm. I mean, straight off a farm, in Ogallala, Nebraska."

On Wednesday, Brown lost three chances to stop his impending execution.

Late in the afternoon, the State Supreme Court denied a request for an emergency stay, 8-to-1. Brown had claimed his mental illness (bipolar disorder) was improperly downplayed during his sentencing.

An hour earlier, Governor Chris Gregoire also denied clemency Wednesday, saying she would not intervene in the execution.

And in the morning, a King County Superior Court judge upheld her Tuesday ruling against Brown's claim that his mental illness made him unfit to stand trial in the first place.

Bowen's hope is that this means, after Friday, she will no longer have to picture Cal Coburn Brown, 55.

"Whether he's lived his life in prison, he's still lived another 18 years," Bowen said. "She could have had a family. She could have been married. We would have loved to have her here with us."

Brown kidnapped Washa back in 1991. He tortured and raped her over a period of 36 hours at a SeaTac motel before killing her and leaving her body in her own car in a nearby park-and-ride.

He was arrested after a similar incident in Palm Springs, Calif., where he confessed to Washa's murder.

In 1993, a jury convicted him.  He was sentenced to the death penalty.

But on March 12, 2009, about eight hours before the execution was to be carried out, it was put on hold over the constitutionality of the lethal injection method.

Brown and his attorneys are still trying to prevent him from being the first convict executed in Washington since 2001, and just the fifth since 1963.

They maintain his bipolar disorder was never given enough weight during his trial and sentencing.  They also claim the Washington State Department of Corrections staff isn't qualified to administer the state's new one-drug lethal injection.

Among their remaining options: the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will take up Brown's claim again the injection team, and Brown can still appeal today's King County ruling to the State Supreme Court.

Bowen hopes neither of those will happen.

"It's well beyond time that the sentence be carried out," Bowen said. "It serves no purpose to grant him another stay [of execution]. There's no reason to do it. He needs to die."

Bowen leaves Thursday to attend the scheduled execution, she said.

"It's not closure, but you're... moving on to the next phase of grieving," she said, "and that next phase is Cal Brown's gone, and now we don't have to think about him anymore, and we can just rejoice in who Holly was and hold onto her as people who love her."