SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon judge says death row inmate Gary Haugen has the right to reject a reprieve from Governor John Kitzhaber. Circuit Court Judge Timothy Alexander's ruling Friday paves the way for a possible new execution date for the two-time murderer.
Gary Haugen dropped his appeals and said in court he wants to die. But last fall, just days before the scheduled execution, Governor John Kitzhaber issued a moratorium on executions.
The governor said he wanted to give Oregonians time to evaluate the merits of the death penalty. Haugen sued and said the reprieve was not valid since he rejected it.
Judge Alexander ruled that Kitzhaber has the authority to issue the reprieve. But the judge wrote "absent acceptance, a reprieve is ineffective." Kitzhaber spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki said the case is far from over.
"We are confident that the governor's authority will be upheld. We are currently reviewing the case and will likely appeal."
The judge’s ruling does not affect Oregon’s 36 other death row inmates who have not given up their appeals.
Haugen's attorney did not return a phone call requesting comment. Oregon has not carried out any executions since 1997.
On the Web:
Judge Timothy Alexander's ruling:
Gov. Kitzhaber's reprieve of Haugen:
Capital punishment in Oregon:
Gary Haugen. Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Corrections
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