Wyoming lawmaker announces new death-penalty repeal attempt

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A conservative group and the American Civil Liberties Union both support a state lawmaker’s plan to try again to repeal the death penalty in Wyoming.

Republican state Rep. Jared Olsen, of Cheyenne, will sponsor a death-penalty repeal bill during a four-week legislative session that begins Feb. 10, he said Thursday.

Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, a group with Montana roots that now has an office in Wyoming, supports the effort alongside the ACLU, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

“Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative, this isn’t a political issue — it’s a people issue. It’s a moral issue,” Olsen said.

Lawmakers have introduced or drafted death-penalty repeal bills for several years in a row. Last year, a repeal bill got far more support than usual, clearing the House and several committee votes before defeat in the Senate.

Opponents argued capital punishment deters crime and encourages those facing the death penalty to cooperate with investigators. Repeal proponents pointed to the high cost of death-penalty cases and dozens of death-row inmates nationwide that have been exonerated.

A repeal attempt would face tougher odds in the upcoming session dedicated mainly to the state budget. In even-numbered years, bills unrelated to the budget require a two-thirds vote for introduction.

Wyoming’s last execution was in 1992. A judge overturned the death sentence against the state’s only death-row inmate, Dale Wayne Eaton, in 2014.

Eaton was convicted in 2004 of kidnapping, raping and killing a Montana woman in 1988.

A federal appeals court ruled in 2019 prosecutors could try again to pursue the death penalty against Eaton. They have not done so yet.

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