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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 death row inmate convicted of killing prison guard wins reprieve

Robert Pruett
Robert Pruett
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) A Texas death row inmate who faced execution later this month for the murder of a corrections officer won a reprieve Thursday.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling halted the scheduled Aug. 23 execution of Robert Pruett, 36, who was sentenced to death for the December 1999 stabbing death of corrections officer Daniel Nagle, 37, at the McConnell Prison Unit near Beeville.

Nagle was stabbed seven times and died of a heart attack.

Investigators found a ripped up disciplinary note beside his body that led them to Pruett, who was serving a 99-year sentence at the unit.

Pruett, who maintains his innocence, says his name was on the note found because the guard wrote him up for taking his lunch out into the yard.

Pruett's lawyers are appealing a ruling from the Bee County trial court that rejected arguments Pruett wouldn't have been convicted if results of DNA testing now available had been known at the time of his trial in 2002.

The appeals court set no timetable in its ruling Thursday and offered no further explanation.

Source: The Associated Press, August 11, 2016


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