Death Row Inmate Blasts Oregon Governor Over Execution Halt

A two-time murderer who was scheduled to die by lethal injection next month blasted Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber for not allowing executions for the remainder of his term.

“I feel he’s a paper cowboy,” convicted murderer Gary Haugen, 49, told the Statesman Journal in a phone interview. “He couldn’t pull the trigger.”

Haugen said he was looking forward to his execution, scheduled for Dec. 6, because he wanted to protest a criminal justice system he viewed as broken.

Kitzhaber announced a stop to all executions on Tuesday, saying that he felt the death penalty was “compromised and inequitable.” The governor, who held Oregon’s top job from 1994 to 2002 and was elected again in 2010, is also a doctor, and cited the oath of “do no harm” in announcing his decision.

Capital punishment was reinstated by referendum in Oregon 27 years ago. Since then, the state has only executed two men, the last one 14 years ago, during Kitzhaber’s previous term in office.

Haugen, who has already had two reprieves, said he would be exploring his legal options to find out what it would take to carry forward his execution.

“I think there’s got to be some constitutional violations,” he said, adding: “You don’t bring a guy to the table twice and then just stop it.”