A condemned murderer who tried to seek his own death warrant after Oregon’s anti-death penalty governor stopped all executions in the state cannot reject that reprieve, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. Reuters reports that Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber issued a blanket reprieve to all 36 prisoners on Oregon’s death row in November 2011, saying he would allow no more executions on his watch because he believed the death penalty was morally wrong.
But Kitzhaber, a former emergency room physician, stopped short of permanently commuting the sentences, saying the state’s law on capital punishment was not his alone to decide. That move came just a month before the scheduled execution of Gary Haugen, who had been convicted in two killings and who responded by suing to seek his own death warrant. Haugen argued that he did not want to live in limbo under an indefinite and impermanent reprieve, and a lower court ruled he could reject the reprieve. But the state’s highest court overturned that decision.