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Court Upholds Death Sentences For Oregon Bank Bombers

File photo of Oregon Supreme Court
File photo of Oregon Supreme Court

The Oregon Supreme Court Thursday upheld the death sentences of a father and son convicted in the bombing deaths of two Oregon police officers in 2008. But with a moratorium on the death penalty still in place, it's unlikely the executions will be carried out any time soon.

Bruce and Joshua Turnidge were convicted of setting a bomb in 2008 in a Woodburn, Oregon, bank. It exploded and killed two police officers, and severely wounded another.

The bombers were sentenced to death. Attorneys for the two challenged those convictions on the basis of a long list of procedural technicalities. Oregon's highest court disagreed and upheld the death sentences.

The Turnidges are two of 34 inmates on Oregon's death row.

In 2011, then-Governor John Kitzhaber enacted a moratorium on carrying out the death sentence in Oregon. His successor, Kate Brown has continued that policy.

The two leading Republican candidates for governor both say they'd end the moratorium, citing the 1984 ballot measure that Oregon voters approved, reinstating the death penalty.

Since 1984, just two inmates have been put to death in Oregon, both in the late 1990s. In each case, the inmates had dropped all appeals and indicated a willingness to die.

Those executions took place under John Kitzhaber during his first two terms in office.

When he returned to the governor's office, he said he regretted his decision to allow the executions to be carried out.

Kitzhaber implemented his death penalty moratorium when death row inmate Gary Haugen dropped his appeals. Haugen, a two-time murderer, was less than two weeks away from receiving a lethal injection when the governor acted.

Oregon Supreme Court rulings: Joshua Turnidge; Bruce Turnidge.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.