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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…

Saudi Arabia executes 70th convict this year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Public execution in Saudi Arabia
YADH: Saudi Arabia executed a citizen convicted of murder on Sunday, bringing the number of people it has put to death this year to 70.

Alaa al-Zahrani was found guilty of killing fellow Saudi Abdullah al-Sumairi with a rock to the head, the interior ministry said.

He was put to death in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, said a ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The 70 executions so far this year include 47 death sentences for "terrorism" carried out in a single day on January 2.

Most people sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 153 people, most of them for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP count.

Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia last year was the highest for two decades.

However, the tally was far behind those of China and Iran.

The kingdom has a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: Agence France-Presse, March 6, 2016

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