by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:
TACOMA, Wash. - The man who raped and murdered a 65-year-old Tacoma woman in 1997 now has his execution date set.
But prosecutors warn that while execution is scheduled for Dec.17, Cecil Davis will likely stay alive for years as the case moves through appeals.
The prosecutor originally asked execution to be set for Jan. 25, the 17th anniversary of Yoshiko Couch's horrific murder in her Tacoma home. However, certain laws around when the paperwork was received forced the date to be much sooner.
Davis declined to say anything in court.
"The method of execution shall be by intravenous injection or at your election if you wish, hanging by the neck until you're dead.," Judge Ron Culpepper informed him.
"We rarely seek the death penalty and when we do it's in the most egregious of cases," Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist said.
Seventy-eight people, all men, have been executed in Washington since 1904, the date the state uses as a reference point.
Right now eight men, including Davis, are waiting on death row.
The most recent execution was Cal Brown in 2010 for the torture, rape and murder of a Burien woman, Holly Washa, almost two decades before.
Lindquist doesn't expect Davis' execution for another five to 10 years.
"You're saying there are many other steps he can take still?" KIRO 7 said.
"He's exhausted one level of appeals -- but there's another level, and then another level," he said.
"You cannot bring the person back under our system of justice," defense attorney Eric Nielsen said. "We give every opportunity for somebody to fight for their life."
Death penalty cases are costly. The state spent more than $97,000 just on the physical execution of Brown in September, not counting the all the other court costs from appeals.