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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…

Vietnam: 2 men sentenced to death for murder

The People's Court of the southern province of Binh Phuoc yesterday sentenced Nguyen Hai Duong and Vu Van Tien, both 24, to death on charges of murdering 6 family members in their home and robbing VND50 million (US$2,200) worth of their family assets on July 7.

The court also announced a sentence of 13 years in prison for Tran Dinh Thoai, 27, from Vinh Long Province, on a charge of attempted murder and 3 years on a charge of robbery.

Thoai had helped Duong to buy a stun gun and electrical wire, and showed him how to use them, the court said.

The Procuracy also asked that all 3 defendants pay the family of the deceased VND480 million ($21,290) in compensation.

According to the police, Nguyen Hai Duong, from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang was the key murderer. Vu Van Tien from Binh Phuoc Province was the chief accomplice in the murders.

Duong and Tien had no previous convictions. Police said the two men had drunk a little wine prior to the murders, but the amount had little effect on their thinking.

According to the court, Duong was motivated by revenge because of his relationship with Le Thi Anh Linh, 22, who was killed along with her parents.

His relationship with Linh had been rejected by the family, including Linh's father Le Van My, 48, a wood-processing magnate.

Duong and Linh had been involved romantically for more than 2 years, and Duong had once lived in the family's villa.

In April, Duong began thinking of a plan to kill Linh and My's family and rob them of their assets.

Duong then bought a metal-ball gun, a stun gun, a 30-cm knife, a 7-cm switchblade, masks, gloves, strings, plastic tapes, a new SIM card and other items in preparation for his crime. He also borrowed a motorcycle from his aunt.

On July 6, Duong met Tien for coffee and asked him to follow him to a site to rob a wealthy family.

Approaching the house at 2am, Duong told Du Minh Vy, a relative of the family living at the house, that he would give him money if he opened the gate.

Vy unlocked the gate to permit Duong entry. Duong then killed Vy.

After asking several people in the house where cash was stored, Duong and Tien tied up 6 people and used knives to kill all of them, except a 2-year-old girl. All the deceased victims, who had been living at the house, had their throats slit.

The 2 men were captured four days after Le Van My, his wife, son, daughter and two other relatives were found dead in their villa in Chon Thanh District, according to police.

In a related issue, the People's Court of the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau yesterday handed down a death sentence to Tran Van Diem, 27, of the northern province of Hai Duong for murdering 4 people and for robbery offences. Diem had been in custody for nearly 1 year. He also received 6 years on the robbery charges.

He killed the four people in separate incidents by stabbing them with a knife. The stabbings occurred on 4 occasions: August 10 and 24, September 14 and December 14, 2014. At the trial yesterday morning, the procuracy proposed the death penalty for Diem, saying the acts were a "barbaric crime, affecting security and order of society".

Source: Viet Nam News, December 31, 2015

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