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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…

Florida: Parents of murdered woman seek end to executions

Florida's death chamber
The parents of a young woman who was killed chose to forgive his killer, and they want to stop executions in Florida.

Even before the Seminole Heights case, the debate over the death penalty has been an ongoing one in Florida for quite some time.

The last day of November marks the annual International Day of Cities for Life protests to put an end the death penalty.

Pushing in that fight for Florida are parents Andy and Kate Grosmaire. Their daughter, Ann, was shot and killed by her boyfriend Conor McBride after an argument.

It happened March 28, 2010. Ann was 19. She and McBride were dating for 3 years.

Charged with 1st-degree murder, McBride could have received the death penalty, but Grosmaire's parents plead with the state attorney to lessen his charge.

"Instead of turning to anger and bitterness, we forgave him for that," said mom Kate. "We worked with the state attorney to send him to prison for life."

Their appeal got him 20 years in prison instead, with 10 years probation.

"We worked through a process called restorative justice," she said. "We were able to sit down in a room and share with him what our daughter's loss meant to us and he was able to tell us the details of what happened that night."

By choosing to forgive their daughter's killer, they've joined the national movement to end the death penalty. The Cities for Life event for the Tampa Bay Area was held at St. Cecelia Church in Clearwater on Thursday.

While it's a moral issue for some supporters, for others its more about cost and racial inequality. Research claiming the cost of millions to taxpayers was provided by the group Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

The Grosmaires say the better alternative is life without parole. The death penalty won't bring their daughter back or give her justice. Turning their pain into purpose, they hope their story will help others.

"To this day I still miss my daughter," father Andy said." Holidays are particularly very hard for us because one of our children is always missing at the table. It's a grieving process.

"It's not that we forget our loved ones but through forgiveness we are no longer tied to the person who has caused us so much harm."

In June. Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala made headlines for refusing to seek the death penalty in capital murder cases. In a news conference, she said the death penalty led to "chaos, uncertainty and turmoil" and "traps many victims, families in a decades-long cycle of uncertainty."

Gov. Rick Scott ended up reassigning her cases, a move upheld by Florida's Supreme Court.

Source: WTSP-TV news, November 30, 2017


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning