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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…

California death row inmate James Majors found dead

James Majors
A man on California death row has been found dead, prison officials say.

SAN QUENTIN (KRON) — A San Quentin State Prison inmate on death row died Thursday morning of unknown causes, according to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Condemned inmate, 69-year-old James David Majors of Sacramento County, was pronounced dead around 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning at a nearby hospital, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials said.

The cause of death is unknown pending autopsy results.

Majors was on death row at San Quentin State Prison since February 1991.

He was sentenced to death by a Sacramento County jury for the Jan. 25, 1989 robbery and first-degree murders of Thomas Probst, Jeanine Copeland and Patrick Mungavin at a home in Fair Oaks, according to officials.

Majors and his accomplice, Robert Reese, came to Sacramento from Arizona with the intention of buying a pound of methamphetamine.

He and Reese shot and killed the three victims and stole methamphetamine, money, and jewelry from a safe in the home.

The victims were discovered by Copeland’s 8-year-old son.

Reese was found shot to death in Arizona a month after the murders, officials said.

California reinstated capital punishment in 1978.

Since then, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says, “71 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 25 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, eight have died from other causes, and two (including Majors) have their cause of death pending. There are currently 749 offenders on California’s death row.”

Source: KRON4.com, January 28, 2017

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