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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…

On death row 35 years, Texas inmate dies of natural causes

Typical death-row cell, Polunsky Unit, Texas
Typical death-row cell, Polunsky Unit, Texas
Texas prison officials say a man on death row for 35 years for a Houston robbery where 3 people were shot and killed has died of natural causes.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark says 60-year-old Max Soffar died Sunday at the infirmary at the Polunsky Unit prison, home of the state's male death row.

Soffar had said he was being treated for liver cancer.

He was condemned in 1981, a year after the slayings of 17-year-old Arden Alane Felsher, her 17-year-old boyfriend, Tommy Lee Temple, and 25-year-old Stephen Allen Sims, an assistant manager at a bowling alley that was being robbed.

Soffar was retried in 2006 and convicted again.

Only 6 of the some 250 condemned inmates in Texas have served more time than Soffar.

Source: Associated Press, April 25, 2016

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