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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…

Indiana Serial Killer Pleads Guilty to Killing Seven Women Out of 'Anger,' Is Spared Death Penalty

Jury box
A former Marine who admitted Friday to murdering 7 women in Indiana will be spared the death penalty as part of his plea deal, according to multiple reports.

Darren D. Vann, a resident of Gary, was first arrested in 2014. His trial was set to begin in October and prosecutors had indicated they would seek the death penalty, according to the Chicago Tribune.

But on Friday, The New York Times reports, Vann pleaded guilty to the strangulation deaths of Afrikka Hardy, 19, of Hammond, and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, and five Gary women: Teaira Batey, 28; Tracy Martin, 41; Kristine Williams, 36; Sonya Billingsley, 53; and Tanya Gatlin, 27.

After his arrest for killing Hardy, Vann led police to the bodies of the 6 other women.

Vann will likely learn at his sentencing hearing May 25 that he'll be sentenced to life in prison without parole, reports the Times of Northwest Indiana.

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that Vann targeted women who lived in an area of Gary where women gathered to use drugs or prostitute.

Vann was asked by detectives why he started killing women in Indiana, and, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana, he told them, "Just I guess, anger. 'Cause I feel I shouldn't have went to prison the 1st time. You see what I'm saying?"

Vann served several years in a Texas prison for sexual assault, and moved back to Indiana upon being released in 2013.

Vann served in the Marines before receiving an "other than honorable" discharge in 1993.

Source: people.com, May 10, 2018


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