A three-judge panel of 10th Circuit judges affirmed Dunlap's sentence unanimously, finding that Dunlap's trial attorneys provided him adequate representation.
Dunlap's current attorneys argued before the 10th Circuit last month that Dunlap's trial attorneys were negligent during the sentencing phase of Dunlap's trial because they didn't present evidence that Dunlap suffers from mental illness. Had jurors heard that, Dunlap's current attorneys argued, they may have spared him from the death sentence.
But the 10th Circuit judges concluded that Dunlap's trial attorneys made a calculated legal decision not to present the evidence. Had they done so, it would have opened the door for the state to present evidence that Dunlap was faking his mental illness and had bullied staff members and patients at the state mental hospital while he was being evaluated there.
"Lawyers often disagree on trial strategy, a fact disregarded in the vast number of ineffectiveness claims," Judge Paul Kelly wrote on behalf of the panel.
Read more of John Ingold's story in The Denver Post.
(Copyright 2012 The Denver Post)