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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…

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles turns down John Battaglia's clemency petition

John Battaglia
John Battaglia
HUNTSVILLE — The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has turned down a clemency petition from a Dallas man set to die this week for fatally shooting his two young daughters nearly 15 years ago.

Board spokesman Raymond Estrada says the board voted 7-0 Monday, refusing to recommend that John David Battaglia’s death sentence be commuted to life in prison and denying his request for a reprieve from his scheduled Wednesday evening execution in Huntsville.

Battaglia, 60, was convicted and condemned for the May 2001 slayings of his daughters, 9-year-old Faith and 6-year-old Liberty, at his Dallas apartment. 

The girls’ mother, Battaglia’s ex-wife, was on the phone with him and heard the gunshots and cry of the older daughter.

Battaglia still has appeals in the federal courts seeking to block his punishment.

Source: The Associated Press, March 28, 2016


Fort Worth Man On Death Row Loses Supreme Court Appeal

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review an appeal from a Fort Worth man on death row for smothering an 89-year-old man and robbing him of some $6,000 12 years ago.

The high court, without comment, ruled Monday in the case of 36-year-old Tilon Carter. His appeals have focused on whether his Tarrant County trial attorneys were deficient and whether faulty instructions were given to trial jurors.

Carter was condemned for the 2004 robbery and slaying of James Tomlin. Evidence showed Tomlin, a retired Bell Helicopter worker, kept cash in containers scattered around his home.

Prosecutors portrayed Carter as a longtime criminal and also tied him to a fatal shooting at a drug house.

He does not yet have an execution date.

Source: The Associated Press, March 28, 2016

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