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Death Row Inmate Seeks To Overturn Execution Reprieve

Chris Lehman


SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon death row inmate will make an unusual argument in court Wednesday. Gary Haugen says Governor John Kitzhaber overstepped his authority by halting all executions in the state.

Two-time convicted murderer Gary Haugen was set to die by lethal injection last December. But two weeks before the scheduled execution, Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber put Oregon's death penalty on hold.

The governor wants lawmakers and the public to re-examine the state's capital punishment system. Haugen had dropped all his appeals.

That's not unusual, says Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington DC. But Dieter says the convicted killer's new tactic of trying to reject the governor's reprieve is practically unheard of.

"That's not something generally the defendants have control over," he says. "There's certainly a right to waive appeals, but not a right to be executed."

Haugen has an unusual legal ally in his quest: the prosecutors who originally sought his execution. The Oregon Justice Department plans to defend the governor’s right to issue the reprieve.

Haugen would have been the first person to be executed in Oregon since 1997.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network