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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…

Singapore: Belgian accused of killing son could escape death penalty

Philippe Graffart
Philippe Graffart
A Belgian man accused of murdering his 5-year-old son in Singapore could be spared from hanging if he pleads guilty to an amended charge, state prosecutors said Wednesday.

Philippe Graffart, 42, was charged with the murder of his son Keryan at an upmarket condominium in October 2015 but has been found to be suffering from severe depression.

Murder is punishable by death through hanging in Singapore, but Graffart would instead face a maximum term of 10 years and caning should he plead guilty to an amended charge of culpable homicide under the Singapore penal code.

"The accused suffered from major depressive order which substantially impaired his mental state at the time of the offence," the Attorney-General's Chambers told AFP in reply to a query.

"The charging and sentencing position will be made clear when the matter is heard in open court."

Execution by hanging dates back to British colonial rule in Singapore and is applied to convicted murderers and drug traffickers. There is no other form of execution in the city-state.

Graffart's lawyer Ramesh Tiwary said his client was "still very depressed about what happened".

The Belgian, a former finance executive who has been in remand since his arrest in October hours after the killing, did not appear in a district court on Wednesday during a pre-trial session because he was unwell, Tiwary said.

He said the next pre-trial conference on the case is scheduled for March 29.According to Singapore media reports, Graffart's son was found strangled in his bedroom with hand-shaped bruises around his neck.

The father was believed to have been fighting for the boy's custody with his ex-wife at the time.

Graffart's account on business networking service LinkedIn before his arrest described him as an executive director and head of fund distribution in the Asia-Pacific region for Oslo-based Nordea Investment Management

Source: asiaone.com, March 23, 2016


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