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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…

Texas halts scheduled July 14 execution pending drug test

Perry Eugene Williams
Perry Eugene Williams
The scheduled July 14 execution of a man convicted in the slaying of a medical student robbed of $40 has been postponed indefinitely.

A Texas prison system spokesman said Wednesday that a state district judge in Houston has withdrawn the execution order for Perry Eugene Williams pending test results for the drugs to be used in his execution.

The case marked the first time a Texas execution has been delayed for that reason, officials said.

Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said while the state has enough drugs to carry out all seven executions scheduled through October, Perry Eugene Williams' execution was delayed because the agency could not get the test results back in time..

Prison officials said the delay was ordered by a Houston court after they alerted it the test results could not be obtained on time.

No further details were given.

Officials said the testing of the dose to be used to execute Williams was agreed to by Texas in June, when U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston dismissed a suit filed by Williams and Thomas Whitaker, another death chamber-bound convict from Houston, who challenged the state's execution process.

Maurie Levin, an attorney representing Williams, said she was puzzled by the state's inability to get the results on time.

"It's a mystery to me how they could not meet the deadline, because no further explanation has been given," she said. "But the bottom line is, this is the problem with the secrecy of the process of executions."

The Texas Attorney General's Office had agreed in a lawsuit filed on Williams' behalf to have the drugs tested before his execution.

Williams is set to die for the 2000 slaying of Baylor College of Medicine student Matthew Carter.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark says the delay doesn't affect the state's next scheduled lethal injection, the Aug. 10 execution of Ramiro Gonzales for the 2001 slaying of an 18-year-old woman in Medina County.

Sources: Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, July 8, 2016

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