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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…

Rajasthan mulls death penalty for child rapists

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Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], Feb 20 (ANI): The Rajasthan government will soon table a bill in the state assembly seeking death penalty for those convicted of raping minors.

Rajasthan minister Gulab Chand Kataria told ANI that his government similar to that of Madhya Pradesh is mulling to bring a law under which, those convicted of raping minors will be executed.

"We are working on bringing a law similar to that has been made in Madhya Pradesh which awards death for the rape of children aged 12 or below. It will be tabled in the assembly when it is ready," he said.

The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on December 4 last year, unanimously passed 'The Penal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill-2017' to award death sentence to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 or below.

As per the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 2016 report, cases of crime against children have become rampant in Rajasthan in the recent past.

The BJP-ruled state recorded 4,034 such cases in 2016, which is 3.8 percent of the crimes against children (98,344) registered across the country. In 2015, the state had registered 3,689 cases of crime against children.

Source: ANI, February 20, 2018


Tamil Nadu: It’s death penalty for rapist-murderer of a 7-year-old girl


Techie Dhasvanth, 23, was on Monday sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl.

Chengalpattu: Techie Dhasvanth, 23, was on Monday sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl at Mugalivakkam last February. The Mahila Court judge P. Velmurugan, pronouncing the verdict in the distressing case that drew widespread public outrage, also sentenced the youth, an engineering graduate, to 46 years of rigorous imprisonment on various counts after holding that the prosecution has proved the guilt beyond doubt.

Dhasvanth also allegedly killed his mother for money while being out on bail after being held for the girl’s rape-murder. The prosecution case was that the techie had lured the girl, who stayed in the same residential complex where he lived with parents at Mugalivakkam, telling her she could play with his dog. After raping and killing her on February 6 (2017), he burnt her body to hide identity. The police arrested him but he got bail in September. While on bail, he killed his mother on December 2 and fled to Mumbai with her jewellery. He was arrested there on December 6 but escaped from police custody the following day. He was nabbed in a joint operation with the Maharashtra police on December 8 and locked up in Puzhal jail to stand trial here. 

In his 135-page judgment, Judge Velmurugan held Dhasvanth guilty of all the prosecution’s charges made under the Indian Penal Code and those under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act). He referred to the Delhi’s Nirbhaya case—in which a para-medic student was raped in December 2012 by a gang of six persons—and said that the instant case merited death sentence. “There is no reason to award minimum punishment. If we don’t give maximum punishment, people will lose faith in the judiciary. There is every reason to award only maximum punishment in this case,” the judge said.    n P3

Dhasvanth showed no emotions while the judge read out his verdict but as the latter was leaving the court hall, the techie called out to him, “sir, sir…”. Judge Velmurugan chose to ignore the call and walked away. While Dhasvanth’s lawyer said he would appeal against the conviction, the father of the girl-victim Babu, broke down after the judgment and said, “Justice has been delivered”. After composing himself, he hesitantly accepted a sweet from a packet offered by a kind police inspector who sought to express sympathy with the grieving parent. Babu’s counsel V. Kannadasan said while there was no eyewitness to the heinous crime, the prosecution could nail the techie based on circumstantial evidence and scientific evidence such as DNA and superimposition tests. In all, the court examined 30 witnesses, 45 documents and 19 pieces of evidence.

Source: DECCAN CHRONICLE, P A JEBARAJ, February 20, 2018,


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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