Democrats introduce bill that would abolish the death penalty in Colorado

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DENVER — Lawmakers will discuss a bill on Wednesday that if passed, would repeal the death penalty in Colorado for all crimes committed after July 2019.

A bill to repeal the death penalty is not new in the Colorado legislature but this time around, supporters feel more confident the bill will pass because democrats control both chambers and Governor Jared Polis said he’d sign the bill if it made it to his desk.

Right now, there are three inmates on Colorado’s death row — Nathan Dunlap, Sir Mario Owens and Robert Ray. The last person executed in Colorado was Gary Lee Davis in 1997.

In 2013, Governor John Hickenlooper granted a temporary reprieve for Nathan Dunlap, postponing his execution indefinitely.

FOX31 spoke with Dunlap’s attorney, Phil Cherner, who worked on the case for decades. He pointed out that in recent years, juries have opted for life in prison instead of the death penalty in major cases like that of Aurora Theater Shooter James Holmes.

“It’s clear that Colorado juries are telling us they aren’t going to impose the death sentence. We haven’t had a death verdict in more than a decade. The death penalty is dying of it’s own weight, we are just trying to bring it to a more hasty conclusion,” said Cherner.

Supporters of the death penalty believe perpetrators of the most heinous crimes deserve the harshest punishment. Some families of victims also feel justice is served when the person who killed their loved one is put to death.

The bill will be discussed at the Senate Judiciary Committee at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

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