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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…

Nevada inmate asks how he should mentally prepare for execution

Scott Dozier
Scott Dozier has two months to live, and lawyers for the condemned Nevada inmate are still fighting in court for details about his execution.

While Dozier has not wavered from his death wish, which he put in writing nearly a year ago, he revealed publicly for the first time Monday his concerns about the state’s plans for lethal injection with an unprecedented three-drug cocktail.

“What do I need to be mentally prepared for?” Dozier asked District Judge Jennifer Togliatti, who has signed his execution warrant. “Is it something that seems like a reasonably easy transition, or do I need to have my game up and have the mental fortitude, intestinal fortitude to have a less than — you know — what could be a miserable experience?”

Federal public defenders representing Dozier told a judge on Monday that they plan to meet with deputies from the Nevada attorney general’s office, which represents the Department of Corrections, to discuss which portions of the state’s execution manual should be made public or reviewed by a medical expert.

Citing prison security concerns, prison officials have argued that Dozier should not be allowed access to the entire confidential document.

But prison officials recently reported the three drugs expected to be used in his execution: diazepam, which is normally used to treat anxiety and muscle spasms; fentanyl, used for pain; and cisatracurium, a skeletal muscle relaxant or paralytic.

What hasn’t been disclosed: how the state obtained the drugs, or the sequence and timing of administering the lethal drug cocktail.

Dozier is scheduled to die Nov. 14, less than a week before his 47th birthday.

Assistant Federal Public Defender David Anthony said he wanted to review possible alternatives.

“If he has a choice between a safe and effective execution and a painful, torturous one,” Anthony said, “I think he’s going to choose the safe one.”

The judge interjected.

“Safe, meaning not painful and torturous?” she asked. “Because I wouldn’t say ‘safe,’ since he’ll be dead.”

Shackled and seated nearby in orange prison garb, Dozier simply smiled.

Togliatti ordered the lawyers back in court later this week.

Dozier would be the first Nevada inmate executed in more than a decade. He was sent to Nevada’s death row nearly 10 years ago for his second killing.

A Clark County jury convicted him in September 2007 of killing 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at the now-closed La Concha Motel. In 2005, Dozier was convicted in Arizona of second-degree murder.

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal, David Ferrara, Sept. 11, 2017


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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