Jesse Lee Johnson—black, age 36

Sentenced to death in Marion County, Oregon
By: A jury
Date of crime: 3/20/98
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Johnson robbed Harriet Thompson in her home, stabbed her repeatedly, and slashed her throat. Johnson had a long record of violent crime. The defense attacked the prosecution’s circumstantial proof at the guilt/innocence phase, and Johnson claimed innocence throughout the proceedings. During the penalty phase the defense presented evidence of Johnson’s terrible childhood, his drug problems and low IQ, and that he had behaved well for six years in jail pending trial. (Note: the case took six years to reach trial because twice the judge suppressed physical evidence due to an illegal search and the prosecution appealed and lost both rulings.)
Prosecutor(s): Darin Tweedt, Steve Dingle
Defense lawyer(s): Lindsay Partridge, Noel Grefenson
Sources: Statesman Journal (Salem) 3/19/04, 3/23/04, 3/26/04, 3/27/04

Allen “Gary” Zweigart—white, age 52

Sentenced to death in Columbia County, Oregon
By: A jury
Date of crime: 1/10/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Zweigart hired the 18-year-old nephew of his lover to stage a fake burglary at Zweigart’s home, and to kill Zweigart’s wife Hong Ha Zweigart in the process for insurance money. The would-be hit-man committed the burglary, and bound the Zweigarts. But the 18-year-old could not go through with the murder, so Gary Zweigart freed himself and shot Hong Ha in the head, killing her.
Prosecutor(s): unknown
Defense lawyer(s): unknown
Sources: Portland Oregonian 1/11/02 (2002 WL 3942234), 2/21/02 (2002 WL 3947897), 4/19/02 (2002 WL 3955980), 4/19/02 (2002 WL 3955997), 10/10/04 (2004 WL 58884434), 11/4/04 (2004 WL 58887570)