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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…

Mom of killer on death row for Collin County murder makes case to pope

Pope Francis talks with Lidia Guerrero, the Argentine mother of a man on death row in Texas
Pope Francis talks with Lidia Guerrero, the Argentine mother of a man on
death row in Texas.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has met for a second time with the Argentine mother of a man on death row for the 1995 slaying of a Plano man.

The Vatican announced the meeting Saturday between Francis and Lidia Guerrero but gave no details.

After their first meeting, in Rome in 2014, the mother said that the pope, who is also Argentine, assured her of his prayers for Victor Hugo Saldano, who was convicted in 1996 for abducting and fatally shooting Paul Ray King, 46.

Francis has vigorously promoted Vatican teaching saying capital punishment is morally unjustified.

Saldano entered the United States illegally in the early 1990s.

The day laborer from Argentina became the first person sentenced to death from that country since it won independence from Spain in 1809.

Saldano and an accomplice, Jorge Chavez, 27, abducted King from a Sack 'n Save supermarket Nov. 25, 1995, and killed him later at Lake Lavon.

Guerrero has said her son is guilty of murder but has been driven insane during his time on death row and has already paid for his crime.

Chavez, the accomplice, received a life sentence in the case. He will be eligible for parole in 2035.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, AP, June 12, 2016

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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning