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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…

Missouri Supreme Court refuses to hear inmate's innocence claims despite DNA testing and only eyewitness recanting

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - A man serving a life sentence is denied an appeal hearing by Missouri’s Supreme Court, despite DNA tests proving the hair used at trial wasn’t his and the only eyewitness recanting her testimony.

As 41 Action News first reported last year, Rodney Lincoln appealed his 1982 murder conviction to Missouri’s Court of Appeals but was denied.

The ruling stated innocence claims should only be allowed in death row cases.

The Missouri Supreme Court upheld that ruling this week by refusing to hear Lincoln’s case.

“There's no way a jury would’ve convicted Rodney if it had been fully informed,” said Sean O’Brien, UMKC Law Professor who helped work on Lincoln’s case.

DNA testing later showed the hair presented at trial turned out to not be Lincoln’s, but he’s still in prison 35 years later.

“Zero evidence tying him to the crime and the evidence they used at trial we’ve discovered that it was completely tainted with improper procedures,” O’Brien told 41 Action News.

O’Brien said one of those improper procedures is the police lineup of Lincoln they showed the murder victim’s seven year old daughter.

At the time, she had told police she saw the murderer and he had short hair, but all the men in the lineup had long hair except for Lincoln.

“This poor girl was manipulated into picking a picture of Rodney,” O’Brien said about the victim’s daughter who later recanted her testimony as an adult.

The Midwest Innocence Project is representing Lincoln for free and has tried to get his appeals heard for years.

Now that the Missouri Supreme Court has denied his appeal request, Lincoln’s last hope in the state is to either get paroled or a pardon from Governor Eric Greitens.

Source: kshb.com, June 1, 2017


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