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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…

Ohio: Mother of death row inmate dies after his failed attempts to give her a kidney

Ronald Phillips
Ronald Phillips
The mother of a death row inmate has died after attempts by the inmate to donate his kidney to save her life.

Donna Phillips of Akron died Jan. 11 at age 68. Her son, Ronald Phillips, 42, is next on the list of Ohio death row inmates to die by lethal injection. His execution is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2017, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

The convicted murderer grabbed national headlines in 2014 after the state blocked him from donating his kidney to his ailing mother.

The state had given Phillips a deadline to donate his organ, and he did not meet the deadline.

Ronald Phillips was convicted in Akron of raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in 1993, when he was 19 years old.

A spokesperson for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said Phillips will not be permitted to attend his mother’s funeral.

“Death row inmates are not eligible for funeral visits,” the spokesperson said in an email.

Phillips’ execution had been delayed so the state could allow him the time to donate his organ. His execution was then put on hold on Jan. 16, 2014, the day of the botched lethal injection death of Ohio convict Dennis McGuire. In that case, McGuire struggled and gasped for several minutes before dying after he was injected with a combination of drugs used for the first time anywhere in the United States.

Phillips had fought in court for decades to block his execution. His attorneys argued he should not be put to death because his upbringing led him to believe violent behavior was acceptable and normal. He accused his late father, William Phillips Sr., of sexually, physically and verbally abusing him repeatedly during his childhood.

Source: ohio.com, Nick Glunt, Beacon Journal staff writer, January 18, 2016

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