Gary Haugen, a death-row inmate who says he wants to die, has the right to reject a reprieve issued by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a lower-court judge ruled Friday.
NWCN reported that Haugen — convicted of the 2003 murder of a fellow inmate while already serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of his girlfriend's mother — dropped his appeals and said in court that he wanted to die.
However, Kitzhaber issued a moratorium on executions last fall, just days before Haugen's scheduled execution by lethal injection, saying no executions would occur while he was governor.
Oregon reinstated the death penalty in 1984 and had executed two people since then, which Kitzhaber said had haunted him, according to the Associated Press.
When elected again in 2010, the governor said he wanted to give Oregonians time to evaluate the merits of the death penalty, according to OPB News,
He also said that while he had no sympathy for Haugen, he opposed capital punishment and believed Oregon's death penalty laws were "compromised and inequitable."
However, Senior Circuit Judge Timothy Alexander said Friday that Haugen was not required to accept clemency.
His ruling — that that Kitzhaber has the authority to issue the reprieve but that it was ineffective without "acceptance" — paves the way for a possible new execution date for Haugen.
Kitzhaber spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki said the governor would likely appeal and that: "We are confident that the governor's authority will be upheld. We are currently reviewing the case and will likely appeal."
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