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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…

Oklahoma: Jurors choose death penalty for Oklahoma City man convicted of rapes, murder

Oklahoma death chamber
Oklahoma death chamber
Jurors on Wednesday chose the death penalty as punishment for an Oklahoma City man convicted of raping his girlfriend and her friend before fatally beating the friend.

The Oklahoma County jury deliberated less than an hour.

Last week, the jurors found Albert Ray Johnson, 49, guilty of 1 count of 1st-degree murder, 1 count of assault and battery with intent to kill, 2 counts of forcible oral sodomy, 2 counts of 1st-degree rape, 2 counts of forcible anal sodomy, 2 counts of kidnapping and 1 count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

After convicting Johnson last week, the jury chose life in prison as punishment for each count except the count of murder. Jurors on Wednesday decided the punishment of death for the murder count after listening to closing arguments.

Prosecutors said Johnson forced his girlfriend to invite over a female friend so he could "rape and kill" her. Johnson was accused of threatening to kill his girlfriend and her 8-year-old daughter if she didn't comply with his request.

The former girlfriend testified during the trial and told the jury she was forced to call her friend, Rachel Rogers, 24, to her home in The Village. Prosecutors said the call to Rogers occurred about 1:30 a.m. June 13, 2014.

When Rogers arrived at the home shortly after the call, Johnson pulled her inside and put a knife to her throat, the girlfriend testified. The victim said Johnson then raped both of them at knifepoint.

After the rapes, Johnson tied up the women and beat them with metal objects, prosecutors said. Johnson fatally beat Rogers with a dumbbell, "crushing her face," prosecutors said.

Source: The Oklahoman, June 23, 2016

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