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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…

Vietnam drug kingpin, 8 henchmen get death sentence for heroin smuggling

A court in Vietnam sentenced to death a notorious drugs kingpin and 8 associates on Wednesday, delivering the maximum punishment in a single verdict over the trafficking of more than 1/2 a ton of heroin.

The case centered on Trang A Tang, a 33-year-old leader of a network that trafficked drugs from the infamous Golden Triangle area of northwestern Laos, northeastern Myanmar and northern Thailand, and distributed them in Vietnam.

Tang has become well-known for his opulent lifestyle and for managing to evade justice while spending lavishly on big houses and luxury cars.

The 4-day trial in Bac Ninh province heard how the gang had handled 2,181 heroin "cakes", weighing 350 grams (0.77 lb) each, between 2009 and 2013. That works out to 763 kg (1,682 lb) of heroin.

Ton Trong Hung, secretary of the court, said by telephone that nine members of the network had received the death penalty. Tang's wife and father were among 3 others jailed for life.

The judge called Tang "extremely dangerous" and said he "must be permanently removed from society", state-run radio Voice of Vietnam reported on its website.

Trafficking of more than 100 grams (3.5 oz) of heroin is punishable by death or life imprisonment in Vietnam.

Vietnam in 2014 condemned 30 people to death and jailed 69 others for trafficking more than 12 tonnes of heroin in a what was the communist country's largest-ever drugs trial, so big that it had to be held outdoors.

Source: Reuters, September 21, 2016

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