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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…

South Carolina: State asks for mental evaluation of Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
Prosecutors say they want an independent psychological evaluation of accused church shooter Dylann Roof to rebut or confirm the findings from a pair of evaluations performed by the defense team's experts.

The request comes about a week after a judge delayed the murder trial until 2017 to give psychologists more time to draw conclusions about Roof's mental state. 

Defense attorneys estimated it would take another 6 months for the full reported to be completed.

"In the present case, recent hearings leave no doubt of the defense's intentions to present mental health evidence during the sentencing phase of this trial," Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said in the filing.

Wilson says the mental evaluation will be sealed from the State until the penalty phase begins to prevent self-incrimination by Roof.

Roof is accused of killing 9 black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston. He faces a number of murder and attempted murder charges for the shooting and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

Roof also faces nearly three dozen federal hate crimes charges, but the Attorney General's office has not yet announced whether it will seek the death penalty also. As a result, that decision has caused a delay in scheduling the federal trial.

Roof's attorneys at the state and federal level have said multiple times that Roof is willing to plead guilty if prosecutors remove the possiblity of death as a sentence.

Source: WCIV news, April 21, 2016

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