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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…

Jakarta prosecutors refuse to rule out death penalty in cyanide-laced coffee case

Jessica Wongso
Jessica Wongso
Despite assuring the Australian Federal Police the death penalty would not be sought, Jakarta prosecutors are publicly refusing to rule it out.

Jakarta prosecutors have refused to publicly rule out the death penalty in the case of a woman accused of murdering her friend with a cyanide-laced coffee.

This is despite the Australian Federal Police (AFP) being given assurances she would not be executed before they agreed to help Indonesian authorities.

Jessica Kumala Wongso is accused of killing her 27-year-old friend Wayan Mirna Salihin in January with a poisoned Vietnamese ice coffee at a popular Jakarta restaurant.

After months in which the case file on the alleged murder was repeatedly sent back to police due to lack of evidence, prosecutors declared the investigation complete this week.

Jessica, also 27, said nothing as she was brought to the prosecutor's office in central Jakarta amid a crush of shouting local media.

Trailing behind her were 2 policemen carrying the brief against her and a box which contains new information provided by the AFP.

The AFP received approval in February from Justice Minister Michael Keenan to provide assistance to Indonesian authorities.

The approval came after the Indonesian government assured Australia the death penalty would not be "sought nor carried out" if Jessica were to be found guilty of the alleged murder.

But Jakarta Attorney Office spokesman Waluyo refused to publicly rule out the death penalty as a possible punishment when talking to local media, saying that even for Jessica "it's possible".

"It depends on facts found in the trial later," he said.

Speaking outside the office, her lawyer Yudi Wibowo told reporters the AFP had given local authorities information about an alleged quarrel between Jessica and her then boyfriend - known only as "Patrick" - while they were living in Australia.

Mr Wibowo claimed "Patrick" had reported her to police, because he was "afraid of being reported first".

"She (Jessica) told me they had a quarrel ... her boyfriend had debt. She asked him about the money he owed to her ... that's all," Mr Wibowo told reporters.

He said the AFP had also received reports of Jessica crashing her car into a nursing home in August last year in Sydney.

But Mr Wibowo said he was doubtful the new information could be used during her trial.

In a case that has dominated local press, Jessica is accused of killing 27-year-old Wayan Mirna Salihin, with whom she studied in Australia - first at Billy Blue College in Sydney and later at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne in 2008.

Jessica met up with Mirna and their friend Hani on January 6, during a trip home to Indonesia in January.

It is alleged she laced Mirna's Vietnamese iced coffee with cyanide.

Moments after sipping it Mirna collapsed and began convulsing.

She was confirmed dead a short time later in hospital.

Prosecutors will now have 110 days to prepare the indictment against Jessica and hand it to Central Jakarta District Court.

The AFP have been contacted for comment.

Source: sbs.com.au, May 27, 2016

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