CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- The father of a murdered prison guard went to court Thursday to try to save the life of his son’s killer.
Bob Autobee publicly protested the death penalty outside the Douglas County Courthouse last month.
Now, he wants to take that protest inside his son’s killer’s trial.
This would be the first time in history, as far as Autobee’s attorneys know, that a victim of a death penalty case would ask a jury to hand down a life sentence for their loved one’s killer -- that is, if a judge agrees.
But the District Attorney’s Office says that would go against the law.
"I don't take bullying by anybody, including the courts," says Autobee, after the morning hearing.
He leaves court emboldened to fight for what he says are his rights to tell a jury to spare the life of his son’s killer, Edward Montour.
"A lot people think because I forgave him, I don't want to hold him accountable or have him punished. That's not true. People that do these things have to be punished, but death is not the answer," says Autobee.
Montour bludgeoned Eric Autobee — a Limon prison guard — in 2002.
Initially, Autobee agreed with the courts to impose the death penalty. But, he’s since changed his mind.
"He's shown me he has some goodness in him and he's worth saving," says Autobee.
He believes it’s wrong to kill. And he does not want anyone to die in his son’s name.
Autobee’s attorneys say he is a crime victim and the law gives him the right to speak at Montour’s sentencing.
"He's got the law on his side. He's got the voice on his side, but the prosecution is trying to take that away from him and not let him properly speak in front of the jury," says attorney Iris Eytan. “Now, that Mr. Autobee doesn’t agree with them (DA’s Office), they are now hypocritical. They are trying to subvert what the law and Constitution says to ensure Mr. Autobee has no more voice.”
The DA’s Office says it wants Autobee to speak — to tell jurors how his son’s death affected him and his family. But giving the jurors his opinion on the death penalty goes beyond the limits of the law.
The office says even if Autobee wanted to tell the jurors to kill Montour, the law doesn’t allow it.
"If I don't say it in there, I'll say it in the street. I'll yell it from the highest hilltop…This is what God would want. This is what my son would want," says Autobee.
The father has also said killing Montour would re-victimize him because he wants to continue a dialogue he started with him during a restorative justice meeting in December.
The judge should issue a written ruling in about a week.