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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

South Carolina: Father accused of killing his 5 children faces death penalty

Timothy Ray Jones Jr. with his attorneys
Timothy Ray Jones Jr. with his attorneys.
LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC -- Timothy Ray Jones Jr. is facing the death penalty in connection with the deaths of his five children in Red Bank more than 15 months ago.

Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Donald Myers served notice of that decision at a court hearing Wednesday in Lexington County attended by Jones in his first court appearance in more than a year in what is one of the largest mass murders in the Midlands in decades.

Jones listened intently when consulted privately by his lawyers but said little during the hearing other than to confirm his identity and request a jury trial.

He often stared at the wall ahead, occasionally turning to listen to a comment. He was dressed in a red sweater and khaki pants, wearing glasses with his head shaved.

Jones is charged with five counts of murder in the deaths of his children – Merah, 8, Elias, 7, Nahtahn, 6, Gabriel, 2, and Elaine, 1. Authorities believe he killed the children at the family home in Red Bank on Aug. 28, 2014, after picking them up from school and day care.

Authorities eventually found the bodies buried in shallow graves in Alabama. The traffic stop ended his odyssey of more than a week of driving through the Southeast, the bodies of the children in plastic garbage bags in his SUV for part of that trip, authorities have said.

He told investigators he believed his children planned to kill him and then “chop him up and feed him to the dogs,” according to an arrest warrant revealed in court after authorities blacked out that detail beforehand.

The death penalty announcement was no surprise for Jones, who turns 34 on Dec. 20, since his legal team has said from the start they were preparing for that.

Myers did not reveal any further details of the crime in making his announcement. He read the notice of his intent and gave a copy to Jones’ lawyers, public defenders Boyd Young and Rob Madsen.

Circuit Judge Knox McMahon ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Jones at the request of prosecutors.


Source: The State, December 9, 2015

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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning