State of Washington conducts its last execution by hanging on May 27, 1994.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 9/26/2003
  • Essay 5555
On May 27, 1994, the State of Washington conducts its last execution by hanging. Charles Rodman Campbell, age 39, was put to death for the 1982 murders of two women and a child. Campbell had a choice between hanging and lethal injection, but he refused to make a choice, so under state law, hanging is used. After this, in accordance with a law on method of execution passed in 1996, the state will use lethal injection to execute criminals condemned to death, unless the defendant chooses hanging.

Campbell was convicted of killing Renae Wicklund, her eight-year old daughter Shannah, and a neighbor, Barbara Hendrickson. In a previous rape case, Wicklund had testified that Campbell had attacked and sodomized her and held a knife to her baby's throat in a prosecution that sent him to prison. Upon his release, Campbell committed the murders. He appealed his conviction and sentence for 12 years.

Campbell refused to cooperate with the execution. He had to be moved from his cell using pepper spray and he was hanged strapped to a board. It took prison officials 90 seconds to place a hood on his head and to fix the noose before the trap was opened. Death was instantaneous.

In 1996, the Legislature amended state law and lethal injection became the authorized method of execution, unless the defendant chooses hanging.

Sources: Peyton Whitely, "Homemade Weapons Found By Guards in Campbell's Cell," The Seattle Times, May 28, 1994, p. A-11; William Miller and Eric Sorensen, "Charles Campbell Put to Death," Spokesman Review (Spokane), May 27, 1994, p. A-1; "Lethal-Injection Bill Passes," The Seattle Times, March 2, 1996, p. A-6; "The Washington State Death Penalty," Washington State Department of Corrections Website accessed March 12, 2004 (; Death Penalty -- How Executed, RCW 10.95.180.
Note: This essay was corrected on March 12, 2004.

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