Death row inmate: ‘You ask why I am willing to sacrifice myself?’








A death row inmate who waived his remaining appeals said he wants to be executed to draw attention to what he calls “the cash cow that is death row.”

Marion County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Guimond issued a death warrant on Wednesday for 49-year-old Gary Haugen, who was twice convicted of brutal murders. He is scheduled to die Aug. 16.

In a handwritten letter obtained by KVAL News partner KATU News, Haugen explains himself.

“You ask why I am willing to sacrifice myself?” Haugen read from his letter. “The answer is simply: the system has failed!”

Haugen was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of Daniel Polin, who was a fellow inmate at the Oregon State Penitentiary.

At the time of Polin’s murder, Haugen was in prison for the 1981 murder of his ex-girlfriend’s mother in Portland.

In his letter, Haugen points to other offenders convicted of multiple slayings, including Joel Courtney, who got life in prison for kidnapping and murdering Brooke Wilberger, 19, of Veneta; and Ward Weaver, serving a life sentencing for killing Ashley Pond, 12, and Miranda Gaddis, 13, of Oregon City.

“How do you justify putting me on death row because a murderer died in prison,” Haugen wrote, “and Ward Weaver, sitting on fresh concrete with a little girl dead in a barrel 3 feet beneath him conducts an interview with the media smoking a cigarette while in a shed 20 feet away another little girl is stuffed in a cardboard box.

“You got guys on the row no more dangerous than anyone on the main line,” Haugen wrote. “Just do the math, what does it cost to run the row? Years of attorney fees and court costs! Everyone gets paid. Millions and millions of dollars – taxpayer’s money – while the above mentioned serial killers run around on the mainline for a fraction of the cost.

“At a time when the economy is so strained,” Haugen writes, “how does the millions and millions designated for the row not get looked at?

“So I sacrifice myself, in protest to those who choose this despicable cash cow over our children and communities in hopes that it will bring attention to the farce that is the row and cause people to inquire about their tax dollars and demand checks and balances.

“Personally, I refuse to exist under the conditions in which everyone’s only concern is to line their pockets,” he wrote. “I choose to no longer support the hypocrisy and lie that is Oregon’s judicial system and the cash cow that is death row!”


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