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Wyoming governor: Death-penalty moratorium could save money

July 13, 2020 GMT

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming may implement a moratorium on the death penalty to save money as the state faces a budget crisis, Gov. Mark Gordon said Monday.

“It costs us around a million dollars every time that is brought up. These are just luxuries, luxuries, that we will no longer be able to afford,” Gordon, a Republican, told members of the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee.

The state faces an up to $1.5 billion deficit due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and downturns in the energy industry, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

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Gordon seeks a 20% reduction in state spending in the months ahead.

Wyoming currently has no prisoners on death row. The U.S. Supreme Court in May refused to hear an appeal by the last inmate on death row in Wyoming, Dale Wayne Eaton, potentially clearing the way for prosecutors to resume seeking the death penalty against him.

Eaton killed Billings, Montana, woman Lisa Marie Kimmell in 1988. Jurors convicted Eaton in 2004 of first-degree premeditated murder, felony murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery and first-degree sexual assault.

A federal appeals court ruled in 2014 Eaton hadn’t received appropriate representation and threw out his death sentence.

Wyoming’s last execution was in 1992.