Death Penalty Debate Reignited in CO after Recent High-Profile Murder Cases

September 8, 2015

Verdicts in two high-profile murder cases have reignited the death penalty debate in Colorado, a Denver & Boulder defense lawyer explains. Here’s a look at this debate.

Verdicts in two high-profile murder cases have reignited the death penalty debate in Colorado, a Denver & Boulder defense lawyer explains. Here’s a look at this debate.

Should the death penalty be repealed in Colorado? This is a question that many in the state are now asking in the aftermath of verdicts recently handed down in two of the highest-profile murder cases tried in the Colorado in recent years.

The cases that have reinvigorated the death penalty debate in the state include the James Holmes trial, which focused on the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, and the Dexter Lewis trial, which centered on the 2012 bar stabbings in Denver.

Interestingly, polls taken during both of these trials had indicated that the majority of polled Coloradans supported the death penalty being used in these two cases. However, jurors in each of these cases did not end up sentencing the convicted men to death, opting for life in prison instead.

It is unclear at this time how each of the jury pools were split on the issue of the death penalty. However, some are seeing this as an opportunity to once again call for a repeal of the death penalty in Colorado, where it is so rarely used.

A Closer Look at the Push to Repeal the Death Penalty in Colorado

Among those more ardent about having the death penalty repealed in Colorado are some defense lawyers and civil liberties advocates. They have argued that the expenses associated with trying death penalty cases, along with the fact that juries are clearly ambivalent about sentencing defendants to death, underscore that now is the time to have a serious discussion about repealing the death penalty in Colorado.

When looking at the costs alone, data has revealed that death penalty cases cost, on average, about $2 million more to litigate than non-death penalty cases, largely due to the fact that death penalty convictions result in inmates exhausting their available appeals. In contrast, life in prison cases do not so commonly see exhausted appeals.

Seeming to support the notion of repealing the death penalty, Governor Hickenlooper penned an editorial for the Denver Post this past weekend, in which he specifically noted that, “the death penalty does not make our homes or our state any safer…Life in prison without hope of parole is just and harsh punishment.”

While Gov. Hickenlooper stopped short of calling for a death penalty repeal in this editorial, he has yet to bring the issue of repeal into a bigger discussion, as he had promised constituents that he would do about two years ago when he granted a reprieve of death for inmate Nathan Dunlap.

Death Penalty May Be Worth Keeping in CO, Others Argue

Countering these arguments, however, have been those who maintain that having the death penalty as an option is still crucial, particularly in cases that involve some of the more egregious crimes.

Representing this side of the debate, Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant has noted that:

If people feel the death penalty has no place in Colorado jurisprudence, so be it… I suspect they think that there are those cases heinous enough that the defendant deserves to look the devil in the eye and have the case weighed by a jury in terms of the ultimate punishment.

As more news about this debate – and whether it ends up triggering a bill to repeal the death penalty – becomes available, we’ll report the latest updates to you here, in a future blog. Until then, weigh in on where you stand in this debate on our Facebook & Google+ pages.

Contact a Denver & Boulder Defense Lawyer at the Griffin Law Firm

Have you been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense in Colorado? If so, you can turn to the Denver & Boulder defense lawyer at Griffin Law Firm for the strongest possible defense.

To receive a complete evaluation of your case, along with professional advice regarding your best defense options, contact us by calling (303) 280-1070 or by emailing us using the contact form at the top of this page.

Categories: Criminal Defense News