Judge: Death row inmate who wants to die can reject clemency

Judge: Death row inmate who wants to die can reject clemency
Gary Haugen appears in Marion County Circuit Court, in Salem, Ore., on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Haugen, a condemned inmate spared from the death penalty is back in court Wednesday as he challenges a reprieve granted by Gov. John Kitzhaber. (AP Photo/Statesman-Journal, Timothy J. Gonzalez)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) —  A death-row inmate can reject a reprieve from the death penalty issued by the governor, an Oregon judge ruled Friday.

Senior Judge Timothy Alexander said convicted killer Gary Haugen is not required to accept clemency from Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Last year, Haugen said he would voluntarily waive legal appeals that could delay his execution for years and fought to speed his punishment in protest of a criminal justice system that he says is broken.

But Kitzhaber, who opposes capital punishment, said no executions would occur while he is governor.

Weeks before Haugen was scheduled to die by lethal injection, Kitzhaber issued an order preventing the execution for the rest of his time in office and said he hoped voters would decide to repeal the death penalty.

Kitzhaber spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki says the governor will likely appeal and is confident that his authority will ultimately be upheld

In his ruling, the judge said he agrees with many of Kitzhaber's concerns about the death penalty but that precedents from higher courts support Haugen's right to reject the governor's clemency.

Haugen was serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of his former girlfriend's mother when he was sentenced to death for the 2003 killing of a fellow inmate.

Oregon has executed two people since voters reinstated the death penalty in 1984.

Both of them, like Haugen, abandoned their appeals.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press