Hickenlooper Blocks Dunlap Execution, For Now

May 22, 2013
Hickenlooper suggested that the death penalty violates human rights in his statement, and implied that the U.S. should outlaw it

Hickenlooper suggested that the death penalty violates human rights and implied that the U.S. should outlaw it

DENVER – Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper triggered a firestorm of controversy on Wednesday when he issued an executive order preventing the execution of convicted murderer Nathan Dunlap.  The order, described as a “temporary reprieve,” will likely keep Dunlap alive – at least for the duration of Hickenlooper’s term.

Hickenlooper took aim at the death penalty itself in a statement, describing it as an “inequitable system,” echoing his Chief of Staff Roxane White, who posted controversial statements on Twitter earlier this month suggesting that the capital punishment was racist and inhumane.

Dunlap murdered four of his former co-workers in 1993 at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. Three of those who died were teenagers, and one was a 50-year-old mother.  Another employee was wounded in the attack.

In his order sparing Dunlap’s life, Hickenlooper argued that Colorado “is not immediately equipped to carry out a death sentence,” and implied that Colorado should follow the example of other states in putting an end to capital punishment.

“Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois and New Mexico recently repealed the death penalty. There are now 18 states without the death penalty and 7 of the states with the death penalty (including Colorado) have not carried out an execution in at least 10 years,” read Hickenlooper’s statement. “There has been a moratorium on executions in California for more than 6 years due to concerns regarding the constitutionality of their execution procedures.”

Hickenlooper also suggested that the death penalty violates the human rights of convicted killers like Dunlap, and implied that the U.S. should outlaw it.

“Internationally, the United States is one of only a handful of developed countries that still uses the death penalty as a form of punishment,” Hickenlooper’s statement continued.  “Approximately two-thirds of countries worldwide have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, largely due to concerns regarding human rights violations.”

“As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun said, ‘The death penalty experiment has failed,’” Hickenlooper added.

Families of the victims and District Attorney George Brauchler blasted the decision.

“The knife that’s been in my back for 20 years was just twisted by the governor,” Bob Crowell told the Denver Post.

Crowell’s daughter Sylvia was one of those murdered by Dunlap.

“One person will go to bed with smile on his face [tonight] and that’s Nathan Dunlap,” added Brauchler. “And that’s due to one person: Governor Hickenlooper.”

Hickenlooper’s reprieve is temporary, however, and does not settle the issue.

His order could theoretically be “modified or rescinded” by a future governor — all but guaranteeing that the death penalty will be front-and-center during the 2014 election cycle.

Several Republicans are reportedly considering a challenge to Hickenlooper next year, including former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and State Senator Greg Brophy of Wray.

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4 Responses to Hickenlooper Blocks Dunlap Execution, For Now

  1. Dave F.
    May 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Our fearless leader in Washington can unilaterally decide who on his enemies list is deserving of the death penalty by drone, but the state should eschew executing the law as it has been written and passed because the Governor doesn’t think it’s right. They’re both crazy.

  2. Bob Terry
    May 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Well I guess we the people are arbitrary and imferfect. So to hell with the Courts or the Jury or the Judges or the laws of Colorado and most of all the victims who either have lost loved ones and the sole survivor of this travesty. Good ol Hick couldn’t see or have the courage to place Mr Dunlap to death… The sentence that was given in a legal court of law. Democrats…unless it makes em feel good or tingly..We don’t really need a House or State Senate or maybe a Govenorship…Let s just light up a Joint and see how we feel about it. Was it good for the Victims and the the State of Colorado ??? Doubt it…But the Governor and the Bleedhearts that operate their agendas Just told you the People of Colorado Tough Shit get over it ….Wanna Puff ?

  3. Marti Greeson
    May 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Aurora was my home for almost fifty years, although I have lived out of state over 18 years. Just the headlines of this article immediately brought memories of the horror and carnage of these murders. Nathan did notgive his victims the additional years of life with their families and their dreams and he has already had those years. The death penalty is the law of Colorado for the most violent felons of society and the law is not enacted for the whims of those who believe they are more powerful than the law. The governor should receive a felony charge and conviction and sentenced to serve the number of years Nathan has lived beyond his death sentence as well as every day Nathan continues to live.


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