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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…

Colorado: New DA McCann says Denver is done with the death penalty

DA Beth McCann
DA Beth McCann, Denver, Colorado
Denver is done with the death penalty. It dies as District Attorney Mitch Morrissey leaves office on Tuesday.

His successor, Democrat Beth McCann, sat down with Next, and said she'll make good on her campaign promise to remove Denver from the list of the few remaining judicial districts in the state to seek capital punishment.

"We are (done) under my administration," she said. "I don't think that the state should be in the business of killing people."

McCann believes life in prison gets the point of a punishment across, and "the millions and millions of dollars" the state spends on capital punishment cases can be saved to prosecute others.

Morrisey sought the death penalty once. It was for Dexter Lewis, who was found guilty of stabbing five people to death in a Fero's Bar.

Gary Davis is the only person put to death in Colorado since the Supreme Court reinstated it in 1976. Davis was put to death in 1997.

McCann is not looking to lead a statewide repeal of the death penalty, and she says she'd support a voter referendum on the issue, or repeal in the legislature.

Tuesday, 9NEWS will talk to McCann about how she plans to handle prosecution of police officers accused of breaking the law, and how her work as a gun control advocate will impact how she prosecutes gun crimes in Denver.

Source: 9NEWS, Kyle Clark, Jan 9, 2017

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