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What are some facts about murders in the state of Washington?

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Quick Answer

Washington state has a lengthy history of harboring prototypical serial killers, including Ted Bundy, James Elledge, Robert Lee Yates Jr., Gary Ridgway and Randy Woodfield, among many others. In Washington state, jurors are three times more apt to seek the death penalty for a black person convicted of murder than a white person who committed a similar crime.

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In 2014, the murder rate per 100,000 people in Washington state was 2.5, marking it as having the 37th highest rate of murders in the United States at the time. National homicide rates continue to be notably higher in many other states. The rate was 4.6 per 100,000 people in 1996. Between 1995 and 2000, homicide rates within the state had decreased but have since leveled off as of 2016.

In 2012, there were 236 homicides. The most common targets of homicide included women in violent relationships, young men, black people, and people who are American Indian or Alaskan Native. Between 2009 and 2011, the most prevalent means of committing murder was with firearms, which accounted for 59 percent of Washington's homicides. In comparison, cutting or piercing the skin accounted for 14 percent of murders, unspecified causes were cited in 15 percent of cases, and all other means combined totaled 12 percent.

In counties that reported 20 or more homicides, only Grant and Yakima counties had rates of murder higher than the state. In areas with a high number of people living in poverty, murder rates substantially increased.

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