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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…

Missouri executes Earl Forrest

Earl Forrest
Earl Forrest
A man convicted of killing 2 people in a drug dispute and a sheriff's deputy in a subsequent shootout was put to death Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri.

The procedure started at 7:10 p.m. and time of death was declared at 7:18 p.m.


Forrest's attorney, Kent Gipson,sought a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster countered that the Supreme Court has already resolved that debate.

Early in the afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for Earl Forrest.

A clemency request was turned down by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon hours before Forrest's scheduled execution.

According to court documents, Forrest had been drinking when he went to Smith's home in the southern Missouri town of Salem and demanded that she fulfill her promise to buy a lawn mower and mobile home for him in exchange for introducing her to a source for methamphetamine.

Wells was visiting Smith at the time. An argument ensued, and Forrest shot Wells in the face. He shot Smith 6 times and took a lockbox full of meth valued at $25,000.

When police converged on Forrest's home, he shot Barnes and Dent County Sheriff Bob Wofford, according to court documents. Forrest was also shot in the exchange of gunfire, along with his girlfriend, Angela Gamblin. Wofford and Gamblin survived.

Missouri has been one of the most prolific states for executions in recent years, 2nd only to Texas.

The state has executed 18 prisoners since November 2013, including 6 last year. Earl Forrest becomes the 1,436th person executed in the U.S. since 1976.

Source: The Associated Press, Twitter live feed, Rick Halperin, May 12, 2016 (local time)


Activist against death penalty detained in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY(AP) - An activist who opposes the death penalty has been temporarily detained at the Missouri Capitol after attempting to enter the governor's office.

Jeff Stack was handcuffed and detained for trespassing Wednesday when he tried to open a door leading from the public waiting area to the inner office of Gov. Jay Nixon.

Stack said he wanted to talk to Nixon about stopping Wednesday's scheduled execution of Earl Forrest. He said death penalty opponents have "been polite for decades" but that "the governor hasn't really listened."

Capitol police later removed the handcuffs, saying no charges were being pressed.

Stack is a registered lobbyist for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Source: The Associated Press, May 11, 2016

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