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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…

Ohio: Death row inmate Alva Campbell has died

Alva Campbell
Alva Campbell — the convicted murderer and Ohio death row inmate who entered the death chamber in November but left 20 minutes later after a suitable vein for injection could not be found — has died, according to a report from this organization’s partners at WBNS 10TV.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that he died of natural causes.

Campbell, 69, had multiple health problems, including issues with his veins. He had asthma, emphysema and required an external colostomy bag, according to court filings and parole board testimony. 

The state agreed to use a wedge pillow to help him partially sit up on the execution gurney because of his breathing problems.


Campbell was sentenced to death for fatally shooting Charles Dials, 18, in 1997 after stealing his truck during an escape from custody. He was set to be put to death on a rescheduled date of June 15, 2019.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich issued the reprieve for Campbell after the execution was halted by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr, who said he acted on the recommendation of his medical staff.

The staff spent at least 25 minutes in an unsuccessful effort to find a suitable vein in Campbell’s arms and right leg.

While this was happening, Campbell lay in a partially sitting position on a prison gurney in the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Campbell shed tears and shook hands with two of the medical staffers attending to him after they were unable to proceed with the execution process.

Dials’ brother, sister and uncle were witnesses in the execution facility, sitting silently as they watched a closed-circuit monitor showing Campbell behind a screen as medical personnel attempted to find veins with an ultraviolet light and by palpating his arms and ankle.

Three of Campbell’s attorneys and a friend witnessed for him, along with five reporters, including one from the Dayton Daily News.

The attempted execution on Nov. 15 was the second time in recent years the inability to find a vein has stopped an execution. During the attempted execution of inmate Romell Broom in 2009, authorities spent about two hours trying to find a suitable vein before stopping. He remains on death row.

Campbell has a lengthy criminal record. He was on parole after serving a prison sentence for killing a man in Cleveland in 1997 when he shot Dials to death after overpowering a sheriff’s deputy in Franklin County. Campbell took the deputy’s gun forced his way into Dials’ truck, driving off with Dials inside. He shot the teen twice in the head after ordering him to get onto the floor board.

Campbell received the death penalty after his 1998 conviction on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, felonious assault, escape and other offenses in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Campbell exhausted all of his appeals and clemency bids, including one before the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied his motion to stay the execution of his death sentence.

Source: Dayton Daily News, March 3, 2018

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