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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 man who beheaded little girl escapes death penalty, sentenced to life in prison

Wang Ching-yu
Wang Ching-yu
A man who beheaded a 4-year-old girl on the street in a gruesome knife attack in Taipei last year escaped the death penalty on Friday, being sentenced by a district court to life in prison.

While prosecutors at the Shilin District Prosecutors Office had sought the death penalty for 34-year-old Wang Ching-yu, the judges ruled that since Wang had been found to be suffering from schizophrenia, he could not be executed, citing international human rights conventions. 

However, the man's insanity defense did not save him from life imprisonment with the court determining that he he had been "cognitively normal" at the time of the attack. The decision can still be appealed.

Last year in court, Wang had said that he had believed himself to be a Chinese emperor from Sichuan and thought that by killing the little girl he would be granted concubines to carry on his ancestral line. 
During his trial, he got down on his knees to ask forgiveness from the victim's mother.

The horrific attack occurred last March on a Monday morning in Taipei's Neihu District. 

Wang approached the 4-year-old girl nicknamed "Little Light Bulb" from behind with a cleaver while she was riding her mini-scooter in the street just a few feet away from her mother and grandfather. 

Before they could stop him, Wang severed the little girl's head on the street in broad daylight.

Little Light Bulb's killing shocked Taiwan and reignited debate on the island over capital punishment with many calling for Wang's execution. 

At a press conference, the girl's mother, Claire Wang, stepped forward to call on groups not to use her daughter's death to advance their own agendas, arguing that she didn't believe that any kind of regulation like the death penalty could stop these kind of random attacks from occurring. 

Instead, she said that she hoped they could be eliminated through better family and school education.

The mother was not in court to hear the verdict against her daughter's killer. 

Little Light Bulb's family has also not issued a statement about the decision.

Source: Shangaiist, Alex Linder, May 15, 2017

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