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Death penalty repeal bill falls in Wyoming Senate

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Posted at 9:36 AM, Mar 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-20 11:36:46-04

The latest attempt to repeal the death penalty in Wyoming has fallen short once again.

In an 11 to 19 vote, the Wyoming Senate failed to pass SF0150, a bill to repeal the death penalty.

Death penalty opponents hoped the bill might pass after a similar effort fell just a few votes short in the 2019 legislative session. Republican Gov. Mark Gordon had also said last summer that Wyoming may implement a moratorium on the death penalty to save money.

Kylie Taylor of Wyoming Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, one of several groups pushing for the repeal, released this statement following Thursday’s vote against the measure:

“Last week, both chambers passed budget legislation that will cut the public defender's office death penalty representation. Today's vote to keep the death penalty, paired with that budget, risks a constitutional crisis. We have the death penalty -- a failed government program that risks innocent lives -- but no means to provide the right to an adequate defense, as defined by our Constitution. Many conservative lawmakers understand that, and we know it is only a matter of time before they revisit this broken policy and end Wyoming's death penalty once and for all.”

Wyoming has only executed one inmate since capital punishment was reinstated, and that was in 1992. There’s no one awaiting execution, but last year the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for a possible return to death row for Dale Wayne Eaton by declining to hear his appeal.

Eaton, now 76, could possibly be re-sentenced to death for the horrific 1988 kidnap, rape, and murder of 18-year old Lisa Kimmel—who had been driving home to visit her parents in Billings from Denver.

Eaton was linked to Kimmel’s murder in 2002 and charged in her death the following year. Her car was later found buried on his property.