Oregon Governor: No special session on death-penalty law

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she will not call a special session of the Legislature because of questions raised about whether a new law which narrows death penalty cases is retroactive.

Brown said Wednesday that while it’s clear there’s a misunderstanding regarding the intent of the words in Senate Bill 1013, the session was conditional on support from stakeholders and legislators.

Brown says “that has not been achieved” and she can’t justify the additional cost and time a special session requires without that support.

The new law narrows the state’s use of the death penalty by substantially limiting the definition of aggravated murder.

After Brown signed it Aug. 1, lawyers for Martin Allen Johnson, who authorities say raped and murdered a teenage girl in 1998 before throwing her body off a bridge, raised the issue of whether the new law applies to him.

A judge determined the crime no longer qualifies as aggravated murder under the new law. Other cases could be affected.

Prosecutors, some lawmakers and crime victims had pushed Brown to call a special session to ensure the law would not impact old death penalty cases.