SALEM, Ore. - Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has imposed a moratorium on the death penalty for the remainder of his term, saying he's morally opposed to the capital punishment and has long regretted allowing two men to be executed in the 1990s.
Kitzhaber announced the decision on Tuesday, giving a reprieve to a twice-convicted murderer who was scheduled to die by lethal injection in two weeks. His decision makes Oregon the fifth state to halt executions since 2007.
The Democratic governor says he has no sympathy or compassion for murderers. But he says Oregon's death penalty system is broken and applied unevenly. Since voters reinstated capital punishment in 1984, two people have been executed and both voluntarily waived their appeals.
Prison officials had been preparing to execute Gary Haugen, who also had waived appeals.
Haugen had been waging a legal battle to be executed for some time. Haugen was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of Daniel Polin, who was a fellow inmate at the Oregon State Penitentiary, reports CBs affiliate KVAL-TV in Eugene, Ore. At the time of Polin's murder, Haugen was in prison for the 1981 murder of his ex-girlfriend's mother in Portland.
In a letter explaining why he was trying to be executed, Haugen raged at being put on death row for killing a convicted murderer in prison when other convicted multiple-murderers were only given life sentences.
"You ask why I am willing to sacrifice myself?" Haugen read from his letter. "The answer is simply: the system has failed!"