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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: Peruvian man sentenced to death for 6 murders in Saitama

Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center
SAITAMA - A Peruvian man accused of killing six people, including two girls, in their homes in Saitama Prefecture in 2015 was sentenced to death Friday by a Japanese court.

The Saitama District Court handed down the capital sentence to 32-year-old Vayron Jonathan Nakada Ludena, concluding that he can be held liable for his crimes. His defense counsel, who had argued the defendant has schizophrenia and was not mentally competent to be held responsible for his conduct, appealed the ruling.

Nakada Ludena was charged with murder-robbery. The sentence, reached by a panel of professional and lay judges, was in line with prosecutors' request, while his lawyers had sought his acquittal.

"The consequence of claiming the lives of six innocent people is grave and they were cruel crimes," Presiding Judge Naoto Sasaki said in the ruling.

Citing Nakada Ludena's efforts to hide the bodies and wipe away blood at the crime scenes, the judge said the defendant "knew" that his actions were criminal.

According to the ruling, Nakada Ludena broke into three homes in the city of Kumagaya, north of Tokyo, from Sept 14 to 16 in 2015 to steal money and valuable items.

He stabbed to death a couple in their 50s, an 84-year-old woman, and a 41-year-old woman and her 10-year-old and 7-year-old daughters in their respective homes, and stole a car and 9,000 yen in cash.

Nakada Ludena was arrested the following month in connection with the couple's deaths, having been hospitalized after plunging from a second-floor window at the third home on Sept 16. Police subsequently served him with further arrest warrants relating to the other victims.

His lawyers had argued he acted under the overwhelming influence of a mental illness.

The prosecutors had admitted the defendant was becoming paranoid at the time of the crimes but insisted he was competent to judge between right and wrong.

Nakada Ludena remained looking down for over two and a half hours while the ruling was read out through an interpreter.

"It is clear that the defendant knew he was taking dangerous actions that could claim people's lives," the ruling said.

A 45-year-old man whose wife and two daughters were killed by Nakada Ludena asked the lay judges at the trial in February, "What would you think if all of your family were killed one day and you are suddenly left alone?"

On Friday morning, around 500 people queued up in front of the court to get a ticket for 24 seats provided to observe the high-profile case.

Source: Japan Times, March 9, 2018


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

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