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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…

Death penalty up to judge: Indonesia

Jessica Kumala Wongso
Jessica Kumala Wongso
The Indonesian government is continuing to shy away from a public guarantee that the death penalty will not be carried out in the case of a woman accused of murdering her friend with a cyanide-laced coffee.

During a joint press conference in Sydney on Wednesday, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said Australia had received written assurance from the Indonesian government that the death penalty would not be carried out in the matter of Jessica Kumala Wongso, thus paving the way for the Australian Federal Police to provide assistance.

But when Indonesian Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan was asked during the same conference to guarantee that undertaking, he replied: "Well, I think we leave it to the judge, the court, but I believe we work it out (the) Indonesian way."

The comments followed annual talks in Sydney between Australia and Indonesia on law and security and come more than a week after Jakarta prosecutors and police stated it was still "possible" Jessica could face the death penalty were she to be convicted of murder.

Jessica 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.

The AFP helped with investigations into the case only on the proviso that the death penalty would not be sought or carried out were Jessica convicted.

In the event that a death sentence was handed down by the judge, Indonesia's president could grant clemency.

In a case that has dominated local press, Jessica is accused of killing 27-year-old Mirna, 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.

She allegedly laced Mirna's Vietnamese iced coffee with cyanide and she collapsed and began convulsing moments after sipping it.

Prosecutors have more than 90 days to prepare the indictment against Jessica and hand it to Central Jakarta District Court.

Source: AAP, Karlis Salna and Lauren Farrow, June 8, 2016

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