Oregon Supreme Court sides with Kitzhaber, blocks execution - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Supreme Court sides with Kitzhaber, blocks execution

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Gary Haugen Gary Haugen
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

The Oregon Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gov. John Kitzhaber on Thursday in the case of a convicted murderer who wants to be executed.

Kitzhaber blocked Gary Haugen's execution two weeks before it was scheduled to take place in 2011, saying he believes executions are "morally wrong."

"I do not believe that those executions made us safer, and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society," Kitzhaber said at the time.

Haugen tried to reject Kitzhaber's unconditional reprieve, and his lawyers argued the reprieve deprived him of federal constitutional rights.

Though the Oregon Supreme Court acknowledged being on death row "exacts a toll on a person," it said the U.S. Supreme Court "has not concluded that the uncertainty accompanying time on death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment."

The Oregon Supreme Court also ruled that blocking the execution was within Kitzhaber's clemency power.

"I renew my call for a reevaluation of our current system that embraces capital punishment, which has devolved into an unworkable system that fails to meet the basic standards of justice," Kitzhaber said in a statement Thursday. "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."

Haugen was sentenced to death for the 2007 murder of fellow inmate David Polin, who suffered 84 stab wounds and a crushed skull. He and one other man mistakenly believed Polin was reporting their drug activities to prison officials.

After the Supreme Court's ruling, he will continue living in an Oregon prison.

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