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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…

Ohio execution dates now stretch in 2020

The list of convicted Ohio killers waiting to die keeps growing, with execution dates now stretching into 2020.

As has been the case for 2 years, however, the lethal injection drugs required to execute them aren't available.

The Ohio Supreme Court set 2 new execution dates in the past week, bringing the total to 28 scheduled over the next 4 years. 

Added were John E. Drummond of Mahoning County for Sept. 17, 2020, and Nathaniel Jackson of Trumbull County on July 15, 2020.

Another 26 men are ahead of them, beginning with Ronald Phillips, of Summit County, on Jan. 12, 2017. Phillips is the 1st of 11 slated to die next year at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility nearly Lucasville. Another 8 are on the list in 2018 and 7 are scheduled in 2019.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has not found drugs required for the executions.

"DRC continues to seek all legal means to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out court-ordered executions," spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

Prison officials have tried several methods to buy drugs, including from overseas sources, and Ohio "compounding pharmacies," which mix drugs to customer specifications. Neither panned out. Most major manufacturers have either stopped making drugs used for lethal injection or refuse to sell them to states for executions. The problem affects all states with the death penalty.

3 killers from Franklin County are on the list: Alva Campbell, Jr., May 10, 2017; Warren K. Henness, Feb. 13, 2018; and Kareem M. Jackson, July 10, 2019

8 men on the death list are from Hamilton County, 6 from Lucas County, and 4 from Cuyahoga County.

Ohio law only allows lethal injection in capital punishment cases. The electric chair was decommissioned in November 2001. The law does not permit other forms of execution.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, August 31, 2016

Court sets execution date for condemned killer of 3-year-old


The Ohio Supreme Court has set a 2020 execution date for a gang member who fatally shot a 3-year-old boy.

The court ruled 6-1 Tuesday in the case of John Drummond. Drummond was convicted of killing 3-month-old Jiyen Dent Jr. in March 2003 when a bullet hit him in the head as he was sitting in a baby swing in the living room of his home.

Authorities said Drummond and an accomplice fired 11 shots from an assault rifle and several more from a 9 mm handgun into the homes of the child and a neighbor in Youngstown.

The court scheduled a Sept. 17, 2020 execution date for the 39-year-old Drummond.

The execution's likelihood is unclear since the state has struggled to find supplies of lethal injection drugs.

Source: The Republic, August 31, 2016

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