Thursday, August 9, 2012

Judge: Condemned inmate can reject governor's reprieve

Death row inmate Gary Haugen won a strange legal battle last week against Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. A judge ruled Haugen could reject the governor's reprieve of his execution and move forward in his efforts to die by lethal injection.

In November of last year, Kitzhaber announced he would not allow Haugen's December 2011 execution to go forward nor would he permit any death row inmate to be put to death while he was in office. The governor described the death penalty as morally wrong and unjustly administered, and said he hoped voters would repeal the law. "In my mind," he told the Oregonain, "it is a perversion of justice."

Haugen, a execution volunteer refused to accept Kitzhaber's mercy.  He sued the governor seeking to proceed with his execution. Senior Judge Timothy P. Alexander found, "Because (Haugen) has unequivocally rejected the reprieve, it is therefore ineffective," reported the Oregonion.

Haugen was sentenced to life in prison for murdering the mother of his former girlfriend in 1981. He later murdered a fellow prisoner at Oregon State Penitentiary. A jury sentenced him to death in 2007.

In this odd death penalty challenge, the governor intends to appeal the trial court's ruling.

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