DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — An inmate scheduled to face a death penalty trial for the killing of a prison guard may not have belonged in prison in the first place.
That’s the argument a Douglas County judge was prepared to hear Thursday in the case of Edward Montour, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 after being convicted of killing his 11-week-old daughter, Taylor Montour.
The Thursday hearing was arranged after the El Paso County coroner’s office changed Taylor’s manner of death from homicide to undetermined Tuesday.
During his first trial, Montour said he accidentally dropped Taylor when he stood up from a rocking chair, and that her head had struck the chair and then the floor. At that point in time, the El Paso County coroner said the evidence did not support Montour’s claim, saying the child’s injuries were consistent with someone who had been thrown off a 10-story building.
But after obtaining access to medical records, a group of pathologists and pediatric radiologists consulted by the defense agreed the baby’s injuries were consistent with an accidental death. Before Thursday’s hearing, there was no official word if the coroner’s change of heart had been influenced by that group’s findings.
Regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s hearing, Montour will still be facing a death penalty trial for the killing of prison guard Eric Autobee. Prosecutors say Montour bludgeoned Autobee to death in 2002, as he was serving the life sentence handed down after he was convicted of killing his daughter.
Montour was sentenced to death after pleading guilty to first degree murder in the case. But in 2007, the Colorado Supreme Court threw out his death sentence because it had not been handed down by a jury.
This isn’t the first time Montour’s name has been in the headlines of late. Autobee’s father, Bob Autobee, has been publicly protesting the Douglas County District Attorney’s decision to seek the death penalty against Montour.
“A lot people think because I forgave him (Montour), I don’t want to hold him accountable or have him punished,” Bob said. “That’s not true. People that do these things have to be punished, but death is not the answer.”
Initially, Bob agreed with the courts to impose the death penalty. But, he’s since changed his mind.
“(Montour) has shown me he has some goodness in him and he’s worth saving,” Bob said.