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Tuesday a judge in Salem will hold a competency hearing for convicted killer Gary Haugen. Haugen wants to waive all his appeals to the death sentence and proceed to execution. But his former lawyers have raised questions about his mental competency.
Kristian Foden-Vencil spoke with Gary Haugen earlier this year about his views on the death penalty and life on death row.
OPB News website readers' interest in the case of Death Row inmate Gary Haugen placed it on the top of the most popular stories of the week of Nov. 19.
Governor John Kitzhaber raised the issue of Oregon's death penalty this winter, when he placed a moratorium on executions for the rest of his tenure. He urged Oregonians to "find a better solution."
Lawyers from Oregon's public defenders office asked the State Supreme Court Monday, to order another hearing for convicted murderer Gary Haugen.
Only two people have ever been executed in Oregon since the death penalty was first introduced to the state in 1963. Gary Haugen wants to be next. 49-year-old Haugen has been in prison since he was 19, for the murder of his former girlfriend’s mother, Mary Archer. He was put on death row after he and Jason Brumwell murdered fellow inmate, David Polin. Haugen insists that he wants to die and waive all future appeals. The question now is whether or not Haugen is mentally sound enough to stop the appeals process. He fired his previous attorneys after they told the judge that he was not mentally competent enough to make the decision to die. OPB News reporter, Kristian Foden-Vencil, was able to talk to Haugen multiple times on the phone and in person at the Oregon State Penitentiary. Today we learn about the process he went through in order to speak with a Death Row inmate, and just what Haugen said. We'll also speak with Naseem Rakha, a journalist who covered Oregon's last two executions.
We've been taking a bit of time this week to look back at the year that is coming to a close. We started with a look at the top environmental stories in 2011 — from fish to forests to energy. We then talked with a few other OPB reporters about the biggest stories they'd covered generally — from local Occupy protests to the big death penalty news to the passing of one of the most revered Oregon statesman, Senator Mark Hatfield. And we brought back some of our favorite cultural commentators to give us their takes on the best music, film and food of the year. We thought for our last show we'd go long and wide, and check in with a broad assortment of some of the most interesting and influential people who've been guests on our show this year. We'll ask them what's changed since we last spoke, how the stories they are connected to may have developed and what they're looking forward to in the coming year.
April Baer, Kristian Foden-Vencil and Chris Lehman are three of the reporters you hear on OPB News regularly, bringing you stories from around the state. We asked them to join us to talk about what stories affected them the most. What took up the most of their reporting energy? Which stories do they think are likely to resonate through 2012? We'll hear about Kristian's one-on-one conversation with death row inmate, Gary Haugen. April will share her experiences from days spent with Occupy Portland. And Chris will talk about the death of Senator Mark Hatfield. They'll all reflect on the economy, politics and other big stories that made headlines. What do you think were the biggest stories of 2011? How do you think they'll shape the year to come?
Gary Haugen's unusual legal case has been winding its way through the system since November 2011 when Governor John Kitzhaber halted all executions. In several shows since that time, we've explored the history of the death penalty and Gary Haugen's story specifically. Haugen was convicted of two murders and dropped his appeal of his death sentence, expecting that he would then be executed. He does not accept Kitzhaber's order preventing his execution and argues that the state should carry out his sentence. The Oregon Supreme Court hears the case Thursday morning at the University of Oregon School of Law. We'll speak to Margie Paris, law professor and former dean of the law school, who will be in attendance, about the arguments each side is making. The court is not expected to make an immediate ruling.
Gary Haugen was in court Tuesday in his latest attempt to reverse his stay of execution. Last year, shortly before Haugen — a twice convicted murderer — was to be executed, Governor John Kitzhaber announced he was imposing a moratorium on the death penalty for as long as he was in office. While Haugen seemed to agree at first, he quickly changed course, focusing instead on legally opposing the governor's decision. He's challenging the governor's authority to issue a reprieve that Haugen himself does not accept.
Governor John Kitzhaber addressed the people of Oregon on Tuesday with news that he was granting Gary Haugen a temporary reprieve from his execution. Haugen was scheduled to die by lethal injection on December 6th. Kitzhaber said that he was personally opposed to capital punishment and would not allow any more executions under his watch. He said he wants the 2013 legislature — and the public — to reevaluate the state's system of capital punishment. In his remarks Kitzhaber talked about the last two executions that happened in Oregon. They both occurred after voters reinstated the death penalty in 1984 and they both happened during his first term as governor. He said he has:
. . . regretted those choices ever since — both because of my own deep personal convictions about capital punishment and also because in practice Oregon has an expensive and unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice. Twenty-seven years after voters reinstated the death penalty it is clear the system is broken.In his opinion, those executions did not make Oregonians safer or more noble. He said they were morally wrong. Kitzhaber made it clear that he is in favor of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He wants the 2013 Legislature to debate the issues and possibly send a proposal for Oregonians to vote on as early as 2013 or 2014.
Max Williams is leaving his position as the director of Oregon's Department of Corrections after eight years on the job. In February, he'll officially take on the role of president at the Oregon Community Foundation. Williams has seen the department through many a harrowing budget cycle, even as the state's prison population continued to grow. Governor Kitzhaber's recent decision to stop executions in the state during his time in office meant Williams did not have to oversee Gary Haugen's lethal injection, something Williams has said he did not want to do. Before he was appointed to lead the Department of Corrections, the Bend native practiced as a lawyer and later, served as a Republican state legislator. He says he's looking forward to serving the mission of the Oregon Community Foundation, which is to "improve life in Oregon and promote effective philanthropy." While he says he will be sad to leave the Department of Corrections, Williams pointed out that at his new job, "there will be bad days, but it probably won’t involve shots being fired or life-or-death situations."
A recent Oregon Supreme Court ruling may have extended condemned murderer Gary Haugen's life. This was welcome news to everyone on Haugen's defense team, but not by Haugen himself. The ruling came after the Oregon Capitol Resource center, an anti-death penalty advocacy group, petitioned on Haugen's behalf (but against his wishes).
Since 2008, Haugen has been writing letters to the Oregon Supreme Court seeking to drop any appeals he may have, in order to proceed with his execution. Recently, he told the Statesman Journal,
"I'm just so nauseated with the system that I refuse to participate in this anymore."
We're a day early with our regular news roundtable, our chance to review the big news of the week with a panel of journalists, editors and news watchers. This week, our discussion topics include:
- Negotiations in Salem over the education budget
- The Army Corps of Engineers' decision not to investigate the effect coal terminals would have on climate change or the region as a whole in its approval process
- The push by a majority of Washington's congressional delegation for the federal government not to prosecute Washingtonians who buy or sell marijuana under the state's new law.
- The Oregon Supreme Court upholding Gov. John Kitzhaber's right to block the execution of Gary Haugen.