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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…

Connecticut: Man on death row set to be resentenced in Cheshire home invasion

Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
NEW HAVEN -- One of two men sent to Connecticut’s death row for the slayings of a mother and her two daughters during a 2007 home invasion is set to be resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release because the state abolished the death penalty.

Joshua Komisarjevsky is scheduled to be resentenced Tuesday in New Haven Superior Court.

He would be the third of the 11 death row inmates to be resentenced to life since the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled last year that their death sentences violated the state constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes were convicted of murder in the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, in Cheshire.


Hayes and Komisarjevsky broke into the Petit house at about 3 a.m. July 23, 2007, and beat Dr. William Petit Jr. on the head with a baseball bat as he was lying on a couch in the sunroom downstairs. They tied him up in the basement. Then the perpetrators tied the girls and their mother to beds upstairs.

Later that morning, Hayes forced Jennifer Hawke-Petit to drive with him to her bank and withdraw $15,000. Shortly after they returned to the house, Hayes raped and strangled her and one of the two perpetrators applied a match to gasoline that had been spread throughout the home. The girls died upstairs in the fire.

Petit was able to escape from the basement and crawl out of the house to seek help from a neighbor minutes before the fire erupted. Hayes and Komisarjevsky crashed the Petit vehicle into a police barricade nearby as they fled and were apprehended.

Source: The Associated Press, July 24, 2016

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