Court Sides with Governor on Death Penalty
June 20, 2013, 11:55 am
The Oregon Supreme Court unanimously agreed in rejecting twice-convicted killer Gary Haugen's argument that postponing his death sentence was cruel and unusual punishment. He has expressed his wish to die for what he's done.
A death warrant was signed by a judge in November of 2011 before Governor John Kitzhaber stepped in and halted all executions while he's in office.
Haugen rejected that and appealed. All seven Justices ruled in favor of the governor, saying he has clemency power in death penalty cases and that there's nothing in the law to allow Haugen to reject it. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that sitting on death row is not cruel and unusual punishment.
"I am pleased that the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed my constitutional authority to issue a reprieve. I renew my call for a re-evaluation of our current system that embraces capital punishment, which has devolved into an unworkable system that fails to meet the basic standards of justice," said Kitzhaber.
Haugen was serving a life sentence for murdering his ex-girlfriend's mother, Mary Acher in 1981 in her Northeast Portland home. While behind bars, he conspired with another inmate to kill a fellow prisoner believing that David Polin was a snitch. Haugen has been on death row since 2007.
The earliest that Haugen could be put to death is now January of 2015, unless Kitzhaber wins another term or the new governor agrees with his predecessor.
Kitzhaber was governor when two other death row inmates were put to death in 1996 and 1997, but he didn't intervene, citing his oath to uphold the constitution. Kitzhaber says he regrets that.
"I am still convinced that we can find a better solution that holds
offenders accountable and keeps society safe, supports the victims of
crime and their families and reflects Oregon values," he added.