Hamm family asks Gov. Inslee to reconsider death penalty ban


June 27, 2015

The family of Lori Hamm, the Longview native allegedly killed by convicted killer John Wayne Thomson in 2006, wants Washington’s governor to reconsider his ban on death penalty executions.

In a letter sent to Gov. Jay Inslee in May, Jerry Hamm, Lori Hamm’s father, reminded the governor that he took “an oath to support and defend Washington’s constitution and laws,” including Washington’s law allowing death penalty sentences.

Instead of issuing the ban, Jerry Hamm suggested the governor use the same legislative process any citizen would have to use to change the law.

“Lori’s death was painful and her death impacted all of Cowlitz County,” Jerry Hamm wrote. “Your decision was not fair to my daughter and heartbreaking to myself, my wife and our family.”

Thomson is likely remain on death row in California for several years. He was sentenced to death after being convicted in April 2014 in the death of 55-year-old businessman Charles Ray Hedlund in late July or early August 2006. Hedlund was killed after he stopped alongside the road to help a stranded Thomson.

San Bernardino County spokesman Christopher Lee said Thomson’s execution has yet to be scheduled and won’t be for some time.

“In California, all death penalty cases have an automatic appeal to the California Supreme Court,” Lee said on Friday.

Thomson is accused of killing Hamm, 36, on July 16, 2006, near Castle Rock, about a month before Hedlund’s death. He’s also accused of killing Spokane’s James Ehrgott, 73, only weeks before Hamm’s death.

Even without California’s appeal process, Thomson’s execution still wouldn’t happen quickly. California has had a moratorium on executions since 2006 when a federal judge ruled that state’s death penalty system as unconstitutional.

Former county prosecutor Sue Baur had planned to bring Thomson back to Washington to stand trial for Hamm’s death. Lee said that decision will now be up to current Cowlitz County Prosecutor Ryan Jurvakainen.

When asked if his office was actively working towards returning Thomson to Cowlitz County, Jurvakainen said he hopes to be able to “provide some substantive information” in the next few weeks.

“Until then, I will not make any comment,” Jurvakainen said by email on Monday.

Although Thomson, 55, does not face the death penalty in Cowlitz County, the first-degree murder charge could be amended to qualify him for capital punishment. Thomson is charged with aggravated murder in Spokane, which would include the possibility of the death penalty if he were convicted there.

“Now it is time for Mr. Thomson to pay for his crime spree in both Cowlitz and Spokane counties,” Jerry Hamm wrote. “You have made that impossible.”

Jerry Hamm also asked the governor to provide the research he used to make his decision on the moratorium, as well as copies of the material given to the media. Lastly, he asked the governor to reconsider his decision.

“State of Washington voters voted for the death penalty for these terrible crimes and my daughter and Cowlitz County deserves it,” Jerry Hamm said.

A call to the governor’s office last week was not returned.

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