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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…

Florida executes Oscar Ray Bolin

Oscar Ray Bolin
Oscar Ray Bolin
RAIFORD — Oscar Ray Bolin, convicted of murdering three Tampa-area women in 1986, was executed by lethal injection Thursday at Florida State Prison.

Bolin, 53, was pronounced dead at 10:16 p.m., 11 minutes after the execution began. Scheduled for 6 p.m., Bolin’s execution was delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court as it considered a last-minute appeal.

The delay stretched into the night before a decision was reached just before 10 p.m.

About 40 people were inside the execution chamber when the curtain opened at 10:04 p.m. Bolin was strapped to a gurney with a white sheet pulled up to his chin and his arms exposed. His hands were restrained by heavy leather straps.

Bolin looked straight at the ceiling during the procedure.

When asked by a prison official if he had any last words, Bolin replied “No sir.”

The execution phase began at 10:05 p.m. and Bolin was expressionless. A minute later his eyes closed.

Bolin was still and his mouth went slack and opened slightly.

Minutes later a prison official shook Bolin and called his name but he did not respond in any way.

He appeared to stop breathing and at 10:15 p.m. a doctor came in, checked his eyes and his pulse and placed a stethoscope on his chest to check his heart beat. A minute later, Bolin was pronounced dead.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant for Bolin in October for the murder of Teri Lynn Matthews, who was abducted from a Land O’ Lakes post office, raped, beaten and stabbed to death on Dec. 5, 1986.

After a series of convictions and appeals, Bolin was convicted in 2001.

Matthews’ body was found on the same day she died near railroad tracks in rural Pasco County.

Bolin also was sentenced to death for the 1986 killing of 17-year-old Stephanie Collins, last seen alive in the parking lot of a Carrollwood drugstore in November that year.

Collins’ body was found a month later — the same day as Matthews’ — off Morris Bridge Road in Hillsborough County.

Bolin also murdered Natalie Blanche Holley, 25, who in January 1986 was abducted after she left work at Church’s Chicken in North Tampa. She was stabbed to death and her body was found the next day in a Lutz orange grove. Bolin was sentenced to life in prison for Holley’s murder.

In 1990, Bolin, an Indiana native, was serving a sentence of up to 75 years in an Ohio prison for raping a woman near Toledo when he was extradited to Florida to face the murder charges.

The new husband of Bolin’s ex-wife had called an anonymous tip line to report Bolin’s involvement in the crimes.

Bolin claimed that an Ohio inmate confessed to Matthews’ murder. That inmate committed suicide, but a DNA test was performed. The results excluded the inmate, but did not exclude Bolin.

Nearly 40 people witnessed the execution.

On Thursday, Bolin awoke at 6 a.m. and visited with his wife Rosalie for three hours.

He also met with a catholic spiritual adviser for two hours and was “calm and in good spirits,” said McKinley Lewis, communications director for the depth of corrections.

His last meal was served at 10 a.m.

Bolin ate half of a medium-rare rib-eye steak, half of a baked potato with sour cream, a few bites of a salad with thousand island dressing, garlic bread, some lemon meringue pie and half a bottle of Coke, Lewis said.

Sometime before 6 p.m. he was brought into a 6-by-9-foot holding cell to await his execution.


Source: The Tampa Tribune, Geoff Fox, January 8, 2016




Video: Over and over, Oscar Ray Bolin asserted his innocence the day before his scheduled execution in Florida's death chamber for the murders of three women in the late 1980's.

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