PORTLAND, Ore. - A condemned murderer, who was spared lethal injection when Oregon's anti-death penalty governor stopped all executions in the state last year, can reject that reprieve and seek his own death warrant, a judge ruled on Friday.
Senior Circuit Judge Timothy Alexander wrote that Gary Haugen, who has dropped all appeals and asked that his death sentence be carried out to avoid living in limbo under an indefinite but impermanent reprieve, was not required to accept the blanket stay.
The ruling was a blow to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, who announced last November just weeks before Haugen was scheduled to be put to death that he would allow no more executions in Oregon on his watch because he believed the death penalty was morally wrong.
In announcing the moratorium, the governor stopped short of commuting the sentences of Oregon's 36 death row inmates to life in prison, saying the state's law on capital punishment was not his alone to decide.
Oregon has executed only two people in the last 49 years, one in 1996 and another in 1997, both carried out in a prior Kitzhaber administration.