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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…

Oklahoma Inmate On Death Row Dies Of Natural Causes

Sammy Van Woudenberg
Sammy Van Woudenberg
McALESTER, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says a prisoner on death row for a 1983 murder in Muskogee died over the weekend of natural causes at the state penitentiary in McAlester.

Following a trial in 1984, Sammy Van Woudenberg was sentenced to death for the strangulation death of Mark Berry of Durant in the Muskogee County jail.

Van Woudenberg was serving a life sentence out of Tulsa County for a 1972 murder when he escaped from prison in 1983. He was captured a month later and was taken to the Muskogee County jail, where he killed Berry.

Berry was in jail for stealing government property, but Van Woudenberg and two other men were convinced he was a snitch and strangled him with a wire, hung him in the shower and tried to make it look like a suicide.

Van Woudenberg and one other were sentenced to death. The third man got 35 years.

One man was executed, but in 2001 a judge decided Van Woudenberg couldn't be executed because he was mentally ill. The just said he could be executed if he got better, but that never happened.

Van Woudenberg was 64.

Source: newson6.com, March 8, 2016

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