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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…

Japan: Ex-gang boss on death row charged with another murder

Yakuza
TOKYO: Police have charged a former gang boss on death row with the murder of a man in 1996, his second indictment for murder since the finalization of his conviction over a fatal shooting rampage in 2003, police sources said.

Osamu Yano, the 68-year-old former head of a group affiliated with the Sumiyoshikai crime syndicate, was indicted in May on suspicion of murdering a business owner in 1998, after his death sentence was finalized in 2014.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, Yano and three members of the yakuza group murdered Shizuo Tsugawa, a 60-year-old real estate worker from Isehara, Kanagawa Prefecture, in a car in August 1996.

A senior member of the group instructed another ranked member to kill Tsugawa, who was involved in a land ownership dispute with the gang, and a subordinate member is suspected of having actually carried out the murder.

Yano allegedly ordered the three gang members, all of whom are now dead, to dump the body immediately after the killing, suggesting his involvement in the murder plan, although Yano has denied the allegations.

Tsugawa's family reported him missing to the Kanagawa prefectural police after he answered the door to one of the gang members dressed as a delivery man.

After Yano sent two letters indicating his involvement in the murder to the Shibuya Police Station between May and June 2015, the Tokyo police searched a mountain in Isehara and discovered the body in April last year.

Tsugawa was apparently taken to the site by car immediately after leaving home. The body was in the same clothes that Tsugawa was wearing when he was last seen.

Yano was sentenced to death over the rampage in which a rival gangster and three customers were killed at a bar in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, in January 2003.

Source: Japan Today, July 6, 2017

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