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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…

Tennessee death row inmates die of natural causes

Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, TN
Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, Tennessee
NASHVILLE - Death Row inmate Gary Cone has passed away at the age of 67.

He was pronounced dead at 9:38 AM on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at a Nashville hospital of natural causes.

Cone was convicted of armed robbery, assault with intent to murder and two counts of first degree murder.

He was sentenced to death in Shelby County in 1982.

After nearly 20 years on death row, William Stevens died Monday at the age of 60.

He was pronounced dead at 1:57 a.m. on April 4, 2016, at a Nashville hospital of natural causes, according to a release from the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

He was an inmate at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison here in Nashville.

Stevens was convicted of especially aggravated robbery and two counts of first degree murder for the 1997 deaths of his wife, 45-year-old Sandra Jean Stevens, and her mother, 75-year-old Myrtle Wilson.

Stevens was found guilty of hiring 18-year-old Corey Milliken to murder the two women and stage a burglary at their home.

He was sentenced to death in 1999. Milliken is serving a life sentence.

In 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld Stevens' death sentence, although one justice offered a dissenting opinion.

Tennessee has not executed anyone since 2009. The state set execution dates for 10 men in early 2014, but in April 2015 all executions were put on hold.

Sources: TNDOC, Nashville Scene, April 20, 2016

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