Local

Haugen Fought For Execution, But Thought System A 'Farce'

OPB | Nov. 22, 2011 11:12 p.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:03 a.m. | Portland, OR

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Death row inmate Gary Haugen’s attorney says his client is probably unhappy about Gov. John Kitzhaber’s decision to stop all executions during his term in office.

Kristian Foden-Vencil talked at length about death row and the death penalty with Haugen earlier this year and has this report.


Haugen had voluntarily waived all his appeals and was scheduled to be executed December 6, until the governor’s announcement.

But even though he wanted to be executed, Haugen told OPB earlier this year that Governor Kitzhaber should abolish capital punishment and close death row.

Gary Haugen

OPB couldn’t reach Haugen Tuesday, but here’s when he said back in June:

“I’m not saying closing down the row and sticking the guys on the mainline is going to fix all the problems. But hey, if it’s a program that isn’t working then take a look at it. And if they’re not willing to take a look at it, then don’t bitch about it when guys sit back, like me, and choose to exercise my right to say, ‘You know what? I’m no longer participating in this farce,’” he said.

In making his decision, Kitzhaber said he talked to family members of Haugen’s victims. Tuesday, OPB also tried to contact Clarinda Perez — the widow of Haugen’s second victim. She did not immediately respond.

Kristian Foden-Vencil / OPB
Clarinda Perez, widow of one of Haugen's victims.

But earlier this year she said she had mixed emotions about applying the death penalty in his case.

“I personally will not get any relief from him dying. The only thing I can say is he’s not going to be able to kill again. That’s the only hope I have for other people. At the same time, I think that if he just wants to die, I think death sometimes is an easy way out for people if they’re living in a miserable circumstance,” Perez said.

Haugen’s attorney, Steven Gorham, says just hours before the governor’s announcement, he and Haugen thought a moratorium was out of the question. And although he said Haugen was probably unhappy about the governor’s decision, Gorham then took off his attorney’s hat to described his own reaction:

“Personally I’ve been fighting the death penalty in court since the early 1980’s and I think it would have been nice if this decision had been made years ago,” Gorham said.

Governor Kitzhaber says he favors replacing the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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