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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…

Kovan double murder: Singapore apex court upholds death penalty

Iskandar Rahmat (right)
Iskandar Rahmat (right)
Former cop Iskandar Rahmat, convicted in 2015 of the brazen killing of car-workshop owner Tan Boon Sin and his son Tan Chee Heong, failed in his appeal to escape the death penalty on Friday (Feb 3).

The Court of Appeal - comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judges of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang - dismissed Iskandar's claim that the fatalities were caused when he was attempting to defend himself when his victims assaulted him.

Iskandar - who turned 38 on Friday - was "clearly the aggressor", the judges found, noting that the elder Tan's wife had testifised that her husband was not a violent person, and that his movements were hampered by a chronic knee problem.

The younger Tan, being much lighter than Iskandar, also "could not have been so menacing and strong to retaliate", said Justice Phang, who was delivering the judgment on the court's behalf to a packed public gallery.

The shocking double murder dominated headlines, especially after Iskandar, then an active police officer, was named as the suspect.

On July 10, 2013, the body of the younger Mr Tan, then 42, was dragged along Upper Serangoon Road under a silver Toyota Camry, shocking passers-by. The bloody trail led back to 14J Hillside Drive, about 1km away, where his father's body lay, with multiple stab wounds.

Iskandar had claimed that he intended a rob-and-run job but was forced to fight off a knife-wielding elder Tan to protect himself, and Tan died from his injuries during the scuffle.

During the trial, the court heard that Iskandar had hatched the plan to rob the elder Tan's money to avert a possible sacking from the police force over his "financial embarrassment". He carried out his scheme the day before a deadline to make a S$50,000 lump sum payment to clear his S$65,000 bank debt.

Lying to Tan that he was an intelligence officer, Iskandar had convinced him to place a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera - which was a dummy - inside Tan's safe deposit box at Certis Cisco in Paya Lebar and to remove his money from it, in order to help the police nab the thief who was stealing from the box. Iskandar than accompanied Tan back to his home, where the brazen murders took place.

On Friday, the court also rejected Iskandar's defence during an appeal last year that he was suffering from acute stress reaction during the killing. It was "unsatisfactory" to produce a new psychiatric report "so late in the day", three years after the murder, the court said.

Source: todayonline.com, Feb. 3, 2017

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