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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…

Death sentence upheld for killer of 5 in rural Japan

Execution chamber at Tokyo Detention Center
Execution chamber at Tokyo Detention Center
The Hiroshima High Court on Tuesday upheld the death penalty for a 66-year-old man convicted of killing 5 neighbors and setting fire to 2 of their homes in a remote community in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2013.

In July last year, the Yamaguchi District Court found Kosei Homi guilty of killing a woman and a couple, all in their 70s, by hitting their heads with a wooden staff before setting fire to their homes in the mountainous community of Shunan in July 2013. 

He was also convicted of murdering 2 other elderly people.

In the appellate trial, Homi's lawyers pleaded his innocence, arguing he shouldn't be held criminally responsible due to insanity or diminished mental capability.

Although the lower court acknowledged that Homi suffered from delusional disorder, it determined that Homi was fully competent to be held legally responsible.

According to the lower court ruling, Homi was diagnosed with delusional disorder in a psychiatric test and committed the crimes in anger under the delusion that other residents were whispering about him.

The lower court verdict said Homi was aware that he was committing a crime and thus deserved the death penalty.

The lower court also said Homi's fingerprints were found on the wooden staff.

Source: Japan Times, September 13, 2016

Death penalty upheld over two murders in Osaka in 2011


The Osaka High Court upheld the death penalty Wednesday (09/13) for a man convicted of murdering a former corporate executive and a housewife in separate cases in western Japan in late 2011.

The court dismissed an appeal against capital punishment by Munehiro Nishiguchi, 55, whose defense counsel had said he could have been suffering diminished capacity, citing cerebral atrophy the counsel said was recognized in an imaging scan.

The high court said the man was not suffering from an impairment that could have affected his actions.

The defense appealed the high court decision.

According to the high court ruling, Nishiguchi killed Takeko Tamura, a 67-year-old housewife, in November 2011 at a parking lot of a shopping mall in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, and then stole her money.

In the following month, he choked to death Soshu Ozaki, an 84-year-old former vice president of cooking device maker Zojirushi Corp, at the victim's home in the same city and stole about 800,000 yen.

Source: Japan Today, September 14, 2016

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