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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…

Connecticut court to rule on death penalty abolishment

The Connecticut Supreme Court is set to rule on whether to confirm or overturn its decision last year to abolish the state's death penalty.

Justices are expected to release their ruling Monday in the appeal of Russell Peeler Jr., who was sentenced to death for ordering the 1999 killings of a woman and her 8-year-old son in Bridgeport.

The court ruled 4-3 in August that capital punishment was unconstitutional, striking down a 2012 law that abolished the death penalty for future murders but left it in place for 11 men already facing execution. 

The decision came in the appeal of another death row inmate, Eduardo Santiago.

The Supreme Court allowed state prosecutors in the Peeler case to address issues the court raised in the Santiago ruling.

Source: Associated Press, Feb. 29, 2016

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