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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…

Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee dies while awaiting execution

Derrick Todd Lee
Derrick Todd Lee
A Louisiana serial killer linked to the gruesome murders of 7 women died Thursday as he awaited execution, officials said.

Derrick Todd Lee's cause of death was not immediately released.

The 47-year-old was moved from the Louisiana State Penitentiary's death row to a hospital Saturday for unknown medical reasons.

An autopsy will be performed by the West Feliciana coroner's office, Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, told the Advocate.

Lee - who was connected to 7 murders between 1998 and 2003 in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette - appealed his death sentence earlier this year. The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected his bid in September, putting him 1 step closer to execution.

A date had not been set for the execution.

Lee was sentenced to death in 2004 for killing and mutilating LSU graduate student Charlotte Murray Pace in her Baton Rouge home in 2002. The 22-year-old was raped, bludgeoned and stabbed more than 80 times, officials said.

He received a separate life sentence for the 2002 killing of 21-year-old Geralyn Barr DeSoto, of Addis.

Authorities suspect Lee killed 5 other women - Trineisha Dene Colomb, Randi Mebruer, Pam Kinamore, Carrie Lynn Yoder and Gina Wilson Green - between 1998 and 2003, but he was never tried in those cases.

The 6-year killing spree petrified Southern Louisiana, Sinquefield said.

"For a period of time, you had 600,000 people in South Louisiana that were terrified. People afraid to go out of their homes, taking extra security precautions," he told the newspaper.

Source: New York Daily News, January 21, 2016

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