COLORADO (USA): GOVERNOR HICKENLOOPER GRANTS REPRIEVE TO QUADRUPLE KILLER ON DEATH ROW
|John Hickenlooper has been Governor of Colorado since 2011
May 22, 2013: Governor John Hickenlooper granted a reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, the state's longest-serving death row inmate, ordering his execution blocked indefinitely.
"It is a legitimate question whether we as a state should be taking lives," Hickenlooper, a first-term Democrat, wrote in his executive order, issued in response to a request for clemency from condemned quadruple killer Nathan Dunlap.
Dunlap, 39, who has been confined to Colorado's death row for 17 years, was scheduled to be executed in August by lethal injection.
His lawyers had asked that Dunlap's death sentence be permanently commuted to life in prison without parole. Hickenlooper called his order a "temporary reprieve," noting the decision left open the possibility for a future governor to rescind it and allow the execution to move forward.
"I think it's highly unlikely that I will revisit it," said Hickenlooper, who is up for re-election next year.
Hickenlooper said he met with the families of Dunlap's victims before issuing the order and that the consensus among them was "disappointment."
Bob Crowell, whose 19-year-old daughter, Sylvia, was among those slain, accused the governor of playing politics with the death penalty. "I think it stinks," Crowell told Reuters. "He (Hickenlooper) has not listened to the victims."
Dunlap was sentenced to death on May 17, 1996 for the December 14, 1993 shooting to death of four workers at a Denver pizza restaurant where he had recently been fired.
Victims were: Restaurant employees Colleen O'Connor, 17; Benjamin Grant, 17; Sylvia Crowell, 19; and night manager Marge Kohlberg, 50.
"It is a powerful statement against the death penalty. It cannot be administered fairly and needs to be done away with," Phil Cherner, one of Dunlapâs attorneys, said.
In their clemency petition, Dunlap's lawyers said their client suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental illness for which he had only been diagnosed recently.
In recent years, Rebecca Oakes, daughter of Marge Kohlberg, declared: âIâm not on a crusade to save the life of Nathan Dunlap,â she said. âIâm just opposed to the death penalty. I refuse to let the death of my mother change my stance on the death penalty.â
Colorado has 3 men on death row, including Dunlap. It has executed just one inmate in 46 years. Coloradoâs only execution since 1977 took place in 1997. Gary Lee Davis, 53, received a lethal injection for the 1986 murder of Virginia âGinnyâ May. (Sources: Reuters, 22/05/2013)