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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…

California: Death penalty for the man who killed an 8-year-old he thought was gay

Gabriel Fernandez, 8
A jury in California recommended the death penalty to a man who was convicted of killing an 8-year-old boy for being gay.

Isauro Aguirre was found guilty of first degree murder in the death of his girlfriend Pearl Sinthia Fernandez’s son Gabriel Fernandez. The boy was found in May, 2013, with a cracked skull, broken ribs, and burns, and died days after being hospitalized.

During closing arguments in the penalty phase of the trial, District Attorney Jonathan Hatami told the jury, “No human with a heart and soul could do that to an innocent little boy.”

He asked the jury to “show the defendant the exact same mercy he showed Gabriel.”

Aguirre’s public defender John Alan asked the jury for mercy and to give Aguirre life in prison.

“Mercy isn’t something that’s ever earned,” he said. “It’s something that is freely granted.”

Several people at a retirement home where Aguirre worked testified that they hoped his life would be spared. Alan said that they knew him to be “gentle, kind, patient, respectful.” One juror shook her head when he said that.

The jury deliberated for seven hours before returning with a recommendation for the death penalty.

Gabriel was brutally tortured by his mother and her boyfriend. Jurors heard from his siblings how he was beaten daily, pepper-sprayed, kept in a cage, forced to eat cat feces, and once hit so hard that his head left an indentation in the wall. Forensic testing found his blood all over the family’s home.

His siblings said that their mother and Aguirre would often call Gabriel gay because he liked to play with dolls.

One of the jurors told the LA Times after the trial that she had trouble sleeping during the trial because of the images she was shown. She said that the death penalty was not “enough justice.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said.

The mother is also being prosecuted for murder. Several Los Angeles County social workers have been charged with criminal negligence for leaving Gabriel in the home despite six investigations that showed, according to the judge, that “red flags were everywhere.”

Aguirre will be sentenced in March.

Source: LGBTQ Nation, Alex Bollinger, December 16, 2017



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

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