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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…

Alabama death row inmate asks for hanging or firing squad; court says no

Anthony Boyd
Anthony Boyd
In his last-ditch appeal, condemned inmate Anthony Boyd asked the state of Alabama to carry out his execution by either hanging him or putting him in front of a firing squad.

But the federal appeals court in Atlanta on Tuesday rejected Boyd’s request and cleared the way for his execution by lethal injection.

Boyd had challenged Alabama’s new lethal injection protocol, alleging it violates his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

Instead, he noted, legislatures in Utah and Oklahoma have approved the firing squad, which has a good track record of “speed and certainty for the condemned.” In the alternative, hanging is an option that has been approved by lawmakers in Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington. And Alabama is “fully capable” of approving those execution methods as well, the appeal said.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ruling written by Judge Stanley Marcus, said Alabama gives condemned prisoners the choice between two methods of execution: lethal injection and electrocution.

Also, Marcus wrote, the law is clear. Inmates challenging a method of execution must prove there is an alternative method of execution “that is feasible, readily implemented and in fact significantly reduces the risk of pain posed by the state’s planned method of execution,” he said.

“The Alabama legislature is free to choose any method of execution that it deems appropriate, subject only to the constraints of the United States Constitution,” Marcus wrote.

“But Boyd has not alleged that either lethal injection in all forms or death by electrocution poses and unconstitutional risk of pain,” he noted. “Having authorized two unchallenged methods of execution, Alabama is under no constitutional obligation to experiment with execution by hanging or firing squad.”

Marcus added, “Notably, Boyd did not propose an alternative drug cocktail that the state could use in his execution.”

Boyd was sentenced to death in 1995 for the kidnapping and murder of Gregory Huguley. On July 31, 1993, Boyd and three accomplices forced Huguley into a van at gunpoint. They drove him to a park where, despite his repeated pleas for mercy and promises to repay them, they doused him with gasoline and set him on fire.

Source: acj.com, Bill Rankin, May 9, 2017

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