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

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…

Indiana: Prosecutor seeks death penalty as probe continues in slaying of deputy

Anthony Louis Baumgardt
The man who requested the death penalty last month during his first court appearance on murder charges in the death of Boone County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Pickett may get exactly what he was asking for.

Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer announced Tuesday that his office is seeking the death penalty against Anthony Louis Baumgardt, 21, in the fatal shooting of the 34-year-old law enforcement officer.

Meyer also revealed that additional criminal charges, including felony murder counts, may be filed in connection to the case as the investigation continues.

"To give you a picture of where we're at, it's like doing a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and we've got it 95 percent complete," Meyer said. "We can see the image. ... We just need a few more pieces to confirm that, and things take time." Meyer said.

He said his office has issued dozens of subpoenas.

Meyer said the decision to seek the death penalty was not taken lightly. He spent the weeks following the suspect's arrest seeking council, keeping in communication with Pickett's family and learning more about Baumgardt before coming to a decision. 

Baumgardt showed no remorse during his March 7 initial hearing and asked the court whether he could plead guilty and seek the death penalty himself.  

Meyer said he was leaning toward seeking the death penalty at that time.

"But I was also acting under the pressure and emotion of the event, and I needed to step away from that for a period of time to be able to gather my thoughts and to be able to reflect and deliberate on it with a clear mind," Meyer said. "I know a lot more about who it is I'm dealing with. ... The way Anthony Baumgardt has reacted and responded to the situation is troubling and disturbing, and I think that that weighed significantly on my decision.

"The bottom line is the men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line each and every day ... and when someone does what Anthony Baumgardt is accused of doing, intentionally killing a police officer while that officer is acting in the line of duty on our behalf to keep us safe, to keep our children and our community safe, then that person should face the ultimate consequence."

Pickett was killed the morning of March 2 while chasing a man fleeing from police, authorities say. He was the first Boone County officer killed in the line of duty since 1935. His memorial services drew thousands of mourners.

On the day of the fatal shooting, Lebanon Police Department officers had gone to a home in the 1400 block of Yates Street to serve an unrelated arrest warrant. While there, officers noticed a silver Ford occupied by three men. 

Officers recognized one of the men, John D. Baldwin Jr., and knew a warrant was out for his arrest for violating probation on a charge of possession of a syringe. Lebanon and Boone County law enforcement officers pursued the vehicle for about 10 minutes through alleys, yards and city streets, records say.

Baldwin Jr. eventually drove the car into a grassy area near the Indian Springs apartment complex. Baumgardt, authorities say, got out of the car and ran from officers. 

Deputy Pickett got out of his vehicle alongside his K-9 partner, Brik, to chase Baumgardt. During the chase, Baumgardt pulled out a 9mm handgun, turned and fired at Pickett multiple times, court documents say. Pickett was struck at least once.

Officers shot Baumgardt, whose injuries were not life-threatening.

Baumgardt told police after his arrest that he shot Pickett because he didn't want to go back to jail, according to court records. Baumgardt was wanted on an open warrant for failure to appear in a Marion County court on Feb. 14 charges of criminal mischief and theft. 

Before his initial court appearance, Baumgardt told reporters that he also “didn’t want to get bit by a dog.”

Baumgardt was charged with one felony count of murder, two felony counts of possession of methamphetamine, a felony and misdemeanor count of carrying a handgun without a license, two misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana, and a misdemeanor count of resisting law enforcement.

Baldwin Jr. faces a felony charge of resisting law enforcement as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting law enforcement, leaving the scene of an accident and criminal recklessness.

The third man in the silver Ford was Baldwin Jr.'s father, John D. Baldwin Sr., 55. He was detained by police but had left the vehicle prior to the events that immediately preceded the shooting. He has not been charged in connection with the incident. 

Meyer did not specify whether the Baldwins or other individuals are the targets of the additional charges he intends to file. But he made it clear that the principal targets of the additional charges are in custody on both related and unrelated cases.

"In the state of Indiana, when you're involved in certain felony crimes that result in murder, then you yourself can be charged with felony murder. So those would be potential charges, but like I said, this is a big jigsaw puzzle, and there are a lot of pieces," Meyer said.

Source: indystar.com, Justin L. Mack, April 24, 2018

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

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