SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber will likely appeal a decision made Friday that a death row inmate can reject a reprieve. Last fall Kitzhaber issued a temporary moratorium on executions in Oregon just two weeks before two-time murderer Gary Haugen was scheduled to die. Haugen challenged the reprieve in court, saying he wants to be put to death.
Circuit Court Judge Timothy Alexander ruled that Haugen's rejection of the reprieve effectively nullifies it. Richard Dieter directs the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington D.C. He says the ruling may only be a temporary setback for the governor.
Dieter: "I doubt in the final analysis whether this is going to be up to the defendant. But it may force the governor's hand to either commute or let it go forward."
When he issued his moratorium last year, Kitzhaber specifically said he was not commuting Haugen's sentence to life in prison. He said it was up to Oregon voters whether to completely overturn the death penalty.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network