YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) -- A federal judge this week denied an appeal by death row inmate Cal Coburn Brown, who is scheduled to be executed this month, and state officials continued preparations to carry out his sentence.
Brown was sentenced to the death penalty for the 1991 torture and murder of 22-year-old Holly Washa, a Burien woman. He had challenged the state's new one-drug protocol for lethal injection, as well as the state Department of Corrections' authority to obtain that drug and the qualifications of the execution team.
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour in Seattle denied the appeal Tuesday, saying the questions raised by Brown already had been answered by other courts.
``Neither the family and loved ones of Ms. Washa nor the State of Washington can claim an interest in executing an innocent man, or a man convicted after an unfair trial,'' Coughenour wrote in his ruling. ``Plaintiff nowhere argues that he is innocent or that his trial was unfair, however.''
Brown's attorney, Suzanne Lee Elliot, declined to comment.
Brown was convicted of carjacking Washa at knifepoint near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. He robbed, raped and tortured the young woman before stabbing and strangling her.
``This ruling moves Mr. Brown closer to facing the verdict that a jury imposed on him,'' Attorney General Rob McKenna said in a statement. ``While he has confessed to his crimes, we anticipate Mr. Brown will continue to seek additional delays in the 9th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court, which we will contest as they occur as we seek justice for the victim, her family and the state.''
Last year, members of the previous execution team resigned, worried their identities could be exposed through the court's examination of their qualifications and experience during a separate appeal of the state's lethal injection protocol. At that time, the state's method of lethal injection was a three-drug cocktail.
The state Supreme Court ruled that legal challenge was moot last month because the state switched to a one-drug system. The court also rejected claims that the state Department of Corrections lacks authority to establish execution policies under current law.
Corrections Department spokeswoman Maria Peterson said prison officials continue to prepare for the Sept. 10 execution, conducting required rehearsals of individual roles and responsibilities.
A four-member execution team has accepted the assignment with the understanding that the department will do everything possible to keep their identities confidential, she said.
``While we want to respect their wishes, we do know that there is a certain, especially since it's mentioned in this ruling, there's a certain need to know more about them,'' she said. ``They meet the qualifications in our policy, and they are properly trained to carry out the execution in a dignified and professional manner.''
Peterson did not provide specifics of their qualifications.
State policy mandates that team members have at least one year of professional medical experience, such as a certified medical assistant, emergency medical technician or paramedic.
According to the ruling, Stephen Sinclair, superintendent of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, submitted a declaration to the court stating that the assembled team meets these requirements. Sinclair also said that only three of the four team members will be responsible for inserting intravenous lines and that each ``regularly inserts intravenous lines as a part of his or her professional duties.''
Brown, whose death sentence was overturned by a federal appeals court in 2007 but later reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court, confessed to Washa's torture and murder.
He had been out of an Oregon prison just two months for an attack seven years earlier.
Near the airport, Brown got Washa's attention by pointing to the rear tire of her vehicle, indicating a problem. When the young woman opened her car door to investigate, he jumped in and held her at knifepoint.
For the next 36 hours, Brown raped and tortured Washa in a motel room before killing her. Days later, arrested for attacking another woman in California, Brown directed police to Washa's body in the trunk of her car.