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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…

Trump's sustained attacks on American rights

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Two years ago Sunday, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump derided US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, hearing a lawsuit against Trump University, for his "Mexican" heritage and complained of being "railroaded" by the legal system.
It was shocking, Democrats and Republicans alike condemned Trump's racially intemperate criticism of the Indiana-born judge.
Turns out, it was nothing.
Over the past 24 months, Trump has scorned judges, derided the American court system, and trampled on all manner of constitutional principles. Trump has especially ridiculed due process of law, the bedrock against government's arbitrary denial of a person's life, liberty or property.
Critics warn that denunciations that once seemed so aberrational may be seeping into the American psyche and influencing how government operates.
This week, Trump suggested immigrants at the border could be summarily deported without any hearing to determine if they deserved asylum or wer…

Malaysia lawyer: "Stay death sentences for now, they may soon be abolished"

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Applications to stay the sentence of inmates currently on death row should be allowed, says DAP's Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh.
In a statement issued on Thursday (May 24), the lawyer said the sentences of inmates on death row should be reviewed in light of the possible abolition of the death penalty.
He said he would file an application to the Federal Court on behalf of one of his clients currently on death row for an offence under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
"It is hoped that the said proposed application will be allowed and applied to all other inmates currently on death row as the death sentence is irreversible," said Ramkarpal.
He also urged that the sole discretion of imposing the death penalty or commuting it to a lighter sentence be given to the courts.
He explained that at present, the court requires a certificate from the public prosecutor, who acts on behalf of the Attorney-General, before it can consider commuting the sentence.
Ramkarpal also lauded the…

Bizarre behavior no impediment to gun purchases by man accused of killing Lafayette police officer

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THE ADVOCATE - While responding to a theft complaint at a grocery store last year, Lafayette Police discovered the suspect, 28-year-old Ian Howard, running frantically outside the store, reversing directions and stopping to stare at people.
Howard told officers the FBI wanted to kill him, and that white vans had been following him. He couldn’t remember his name or address, and he did not respond when officers asked if he’d been taking the prescription medication that he was carrying, according to a police report.
Eight and a half months later, Howard was accused of shooting two employees at a convenience store, then murdering Cpl. Michael Middlebrook, the Lafayette Police officer who responded to the shooting scene. The employees survived their wounds.
Howard’s case is proceeding as a wave of new laws across the United States aim to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose an imminent risk of violence, mentally ill or not. And they illustrate the challenges of crafting effective…

India's Supreme Court stays death for child rapist

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Bhagwani says he was rendered ineffective legal assistance in lower courts
The Supreme Court has stayed the execution of the death sentence of a child rapist and murderer after he pleaded in appeal that he was rendered ineffective legal assistance in the lower courts.
A vacation Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra called for the records of the case and froze the execution of Bhagwani, who came in appeal against the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court confirming his death sentence for the rape and murder of a 11-year-old girl.
In its judgment, the High Court found that the brutal crime against an innocent child was committed for the sheer satisfaction of crime and there was a complete lack of mitigating factors to help the accused escape the gallows.
The High Court highlighted the case as an example of the rising brutality and crimes committed against children.
It said the circumstances required the death penalty to be treated as a measure of social necessity and …

Nebraska seeks July 10 date for state's 1st execution since 1997

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Attorney General Doug Peterson wants the Nebraska Supreme Court to speed up its consideration of an execution warrant for condemned prisoner Carey Dean Moore, and to set the execution date for July 10.
Peterson filed a motion with the court Friday to speed up the warrant, saying that if July 10 doesn't work, he wants the court to consider setting it for sometime in mid-July.
He cites several reasons. One of the execution drugs to be used is set to expire by the end of August. The date of execution, according to state law, must be set no later than 60 days following the court's issuance of a warrant, he said.
Expiration dates of the 4 lethal injection drugs are: potassium chloride, Aug. 31; cisatracurium besylate, Oct. 31; fentanyl citrate, Aug. 31, 2019; diazepam, Sept. 1, 2019.
An affidavit from Corrections Director Scott Frakes accompanying the motion says a prison team will be ready to carry out the execution within 30 days of receiving the death warrant.
On May 9, Correct…

Botswana resumes executions, hangs death row inmate

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Botswana continued executions this year, with the hanging of another death row inmate in 2018. State media reported that Uyapo Poloko was hanged on Friday.
Poloko was convicted of killing Indian businessman Vijeyadeyi Kandavaranam on January 25, 2010 in Francistown in northern Botswana.
Justice Modiri Letsididi sentenced Poloko to death for the murder, as well as 12 years in jail for attempted murder charge and 10 years for robbery.
Letsididi, in passing sentence, said there were several aggravating factors in the case.
"The crimes were committed in a brutal and ruthless manner because he strangled the deceased. Strangulation by nature leads to a slow and painful death.
"In all the circumstances, I am unable to find any extenuating circumstances in the conviction for the offences that could reduce the accused's blameworthiness,' declared the judge.
Poloko failed in his bid to overturn his death sentence this year after another judge, Justice Bashi Moesi, dismissed t…

Convicted killer from infamous “Texas 7” prison escape gets execution date

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On December 13, 2000, seven desperate inmates pulled off the biggest prison break-out in Texas history.
They busted into the prison armory, stole weapons and stormed out of the Connally Unit in a prison truck. After orchestrating two robberies in Houston, they headed up to the Dallas area.
There, on Christmas Eve, the men held up a store in Irving and made off with $70,000 and 44 guns. But on the way out, they ran into a cop.
The escapees surrounded the Officer Aubrey Hawkins' patrol vehicle and shot him 11 times before running over his body with an SUV on the way out, according to court records.
They were finally captured in Colorado a month later.
One of the escapees killed himself before police could get him. But the rest were sent to death row, where three have since been executed.
And now, a fourth, Joseph Garcia, has a date with death.
The Bexar County killer - originally sent to prison for stabbing a man more than a dozen times - is scheduled to die by lethal injection on …

Maria Exposto: Can she avoid execution?

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News that a Sydney grandmother was sentenced to death for smuggling drugs into Malaysia sparked shock, alarm and condemnation across the globe.
However anti-death penalty advocates hope a final appeal and a relaxation of the country's strict anti-drug laws will save Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto from the execution chamber.
Ms Exposto, 54, yesterday suffered a cruel blow after a prosecution appeal saw her December acquittal overturned in a Malaysian court.
The Cabramatta grandmother now has the right to appeal the sentencing, with her lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah revealing he expects her to win and walk away.
Malaysia has a mandatory death penalty for anyone found guilty of carrying more than 50 grams (1.75 ounces) of an illegal drug.
The country's politicians last year voted to abolish mandatory death sentences for drug offences but those changes have not yet come into affect, AFP reported.
The country also didn't execute anyone for drug offences last year, according to H…

Ohio man with execution set for July 18 blames killing on ‘homosexual panic’

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A condemned killer is asking the Ohio Parole Board for mercy, saying he experienced a “homosexual panic” of self-revulsion before killing a man he picked up at a bar more than 30 years ago.
Death row inmate Robert Van Hook was sentenced to die for fatally strangling and stabbing David Self in Cincinnati in 1985. 
Van Hook fled to Florida afterward, where he was arrested and confessed.
At the time of the killing, Van Hook was suffering from long-term effects of untreated mental, physical and sexual abuse as a child and was depressed that his life seemed to be falling apart, his attorneys argue.
He also was “troubled by increasing questions about his own sexual identity,” his federal public defenders said in a May 17 filing with the parole board.
They also said he was improperly questioned by a Cincinnati police detective after he was arrested in Florida, and should have been provided an attorney.
The parole board planned to hear arguments on Thursday for and agai…