Oregon's Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber said on Tuesday he will allow no further executions in the state while he is in office, and that he considered the death penalty morally wrong.
The move effectively halted the scheduled execution of convicted killer Gary Haugen, who had waived his appeals and was scheduled to die by lethal injection on December 6.
"It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach," Kitzhaber said in a statement. "I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor."
Oregon has carried out two executions in the last 49 years, both during Kitzhaber's first administration as governor, the statement said.
Kitzhaber said allowing those executions to go forward was "the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as governor" and that he has "revisited and questioned" the decisions over and over since then.
"I do not believe that those executions made us safer and certainly they do not make us nobler as a society," Kitzhaber said. "And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong."
Sixteen states and District of Columbia have no death penalty and there has been a gradual trend away from capital punishment in the United States with the number of executions falling slightly in recent years.
Illinois governor Pat Quinn in March signed a law abolishing the death penalty.
There have been 43 executions so far this year in the United States compared with 46 in all of 2010.