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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…

Taiwan: High Court overturns Hsieh Yi-han's death sentence, upholds Huang Lin-kai's death verdict

Taipei
A new Leaf ? 2 witnesses called by Hsieh Yi-han's defense team said that her chances of rehabilitation were high, and the court paid heed to their testimony

The High Court yesterday overturned Hsieh Yi-han's death sentence, sentencing her to life imprisonment after she was convicted of committing a double murder at Mama Mouth Cafe in 2013.

Hsieh was sentenced to death by 3 lower courts, with the Supreme Court returning the case to the High Court twice for retrial over the murder of businessman Chen Chin-fu and his wife Chang Tsui-ping in February 2013.

At that time, Hsieh was a manager of the Mama Mouth Cafe in New Taipei City's Bali District. She was accused of killing the couple for money and dumping their bodies into Tamsui River, where their bodies were found washed up on shore a few days after they were killed.

Hsieh's defense lawyer called on 2 expert witnesses in the 2nd retrial, a psychiatrist and a Christian pastor, who had provided counseling to Hsieh during her incarceration, the court said.

The expert witnesses testified that the chances of Hsieh's rehabilitation were high. The court overturned her death sentence based on this testimony, it said.

The ruling can be appealed.

Several family members of the victims attended the ruling and afterward said that they felt distraught and could not accept the decision, vowing to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In a separate civil case in 2014, the High Court ruled that Hsieh must pay NT$9.99 million (US$312,823 at current exchange rates) compensation to Chen's siblings and Chang's mother.

Chen's sister said it was clear that Hsieh was greedy and after learning that Chen was wealthy planned to kill the couple.

"She killed 2 people for money. She deserves the death penalty. It is the only way justice can be served," she said.

Although Hsieh was found guilty and the court fined her, the families have not received any payments, Chen's sister said.

Chen family lawyer Wei Yi-lung said the ruling did not meet society's expectations.

Hsieh committed a heinous crime for money and fabricated stories about why she did it, even laying blame on the victims, Wei said.

In another ruling yesterday, the High Court upheld a death sentence for Huang Lin-kai, who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and her mother in October 2013.

Huang, who was 19 and in compulsory military service at the time, went to his girlfriend's house and strangled the mother to death, before raping his girlfriend and strangling her to death with rope.

The retrial judgement said Huang had no regard for human life and committed highly vicious acts.

Given that he is likely to reoffend if released, the court said it decided to uphold the death sentence from a lower court's decision.

Source: Taipei Times, January 11, 2017

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