Gary Haugen Update: I'm ready,' Oregon death row inmate Gary Haugen tells judge; may face execution Dec. 6

SALEM -- This time, Gary Haugen made no long speeches about how the legal system is broken and its money misspent. No talk about dying with dignity or any detailed explanation about why the 49-year-old twice-convicted killer would rather end his life than spend his days on Oregon's death row.

Instead, Haugen, his graying hair pulled back in a ponytail, said he would keep his comments to a minimum.

"I can't go on," he said in a low, calm voice. "This is going to be one time where I just don't do a lot of talking, because I'm ready, your honor. Because I'm ready."

Shortly after, Marion County Circuit Judge Joseph Guimond found Haugen legally sane to be put to death, leaving little left to stop Oregon from carrying out its first execution in 14 years.

In Friday's hearing, the judge asked Haugen a series of questions to determine his understanding of legal options and the reasons for his execution. Guimond told Haugen that he anticipates signing the inmate's death warrant, which the state is expected to file in the coming weeks. Prosecutors said the state wants a tentative date of Dec. 6 to administer the lethal injection.

This is the second time Haugen has been on the path to execution. He has waived his appeals. In May, Guimond found Haugen competent and set an Aug. 16 execution date.

But Haugen's attorneys at the time argued that a Portland neuropsychologist had examined Haugen and found him delusional. Over Haugen's objections, they asked the Oregon Supreme Court to intervene.

The justices ruled in July that Haugen needed to undergo a full evaluation and ordered Guimond to cancel the execution.

A different Portland psychologist, Richard Hulteng, examined Haugen and concluded that he was mentally competent.

Haugen's current attorney, Gregory Scholl, told the judge that he and Haugen's other two attorneys have come to that same conclusion based on their own interactions, Hulteng's evaluation, other psychological assessments, as well as discussions with other professionals.

"Mr. Haugen is competent and his waiver is valid," Scholl said.

Despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, Scholl said he and his colleagues, Steve Gorham and Kathleen Dunn, are committed to fulfilling their professional responsibility to advise and consult with their client on his objectives.

"It is the defense's position that he deserves to have an advocate who will represent him and his interests, regardless of who disagrees with those interests or even what his advocates might personally believe," Scholl said.

Haugen praised his current attorneys for setting aside their personal beliefs and being brave enough to face "the sewing circle" of death penalty opponents.

"They're going to pay the price for that, and they're willing to do that not just to protect my rights but (those of) every indigent defendant on the row's right ... to have a voice," he said.

He also fired some parting shots at his previous attorneys, W. Keith Goody and Andy Simrin, saying they were unethical and unprofessional in ignoring his desires and painting him as mentally incompetent.

"Wherever you are," he called out to them, "how do you like those apples? Because you're sitting where you're sitting and this is what it is."

He ended his comments by cursing two other lawyers who also tried to halt the process.

Haugen has said he does not believe he deserves the death penalty for the 2003 killing of fellow inmate David Polin. But he is going through with the execution in part to protest the legal system as well as to afford himself the chance to die "with dignity," he has said in interviews.

Haugen has been in prison since he was 19, when he first arrived at the Oregon State Penitentiary to serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole for the 1981 beating death of Mary Archer of Portland, his ex-girlfriend's mother.

Ard Pratt, Archer's first husband, attended the hearing, saying he was glad the case is proceeding. "I will hold my breath until it happens," he said.

Opponents said they are still looking at options to stop the execution, including asking Gov. John Kitzhaber to step in. Although Kitzhaber has said in the past that he is opposed to the death penalty, he allowed the last two executions -- which occurred during his previous administration -- to go ahead.

"It's really not about what Mr. Haugen wants," said Tom O'Connor, a spokesman for Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. "It's about what Oregon wants as a state and its own sense of humanity and identity ... Are we a state that cheers when somebody is executed or are we a state that thinks this is not really what we stand for?"

-- Helen Jung
© 2014 All rights reserved.

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