Prosecutors still don't get governor's death penalty decision

8:17 PM, May 28, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Calling it "a subversion of the criminal justice system," two of the area's top prosecutors told 9News on Tuesday they still can't understand why Governor Hickenlooper decided to inject himself into the death penalty discussion last week when he granted a reprieve to Nathan Dunlap.

"There is anger," Jefferson County District Attorney Peter Weir said. "I think it's seen as subverting what we've dedicated our professional lives to."

"I think it was a mistake," Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said. "I don't know what family is going to go through (the death penalty process), if they know that the governor is going to be able to grant clemency or a reprieve and not receive the ultimate punishment."

Last week Governor John Hickenlooper decided to indefinitely postpone the execution of Dunlap. In 1993, Dunlap killed four people inside an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese and wounded another during a robbery. The state was set to execute Dunlap in August.

"Mr. Dunlap had extraordinary due process over the last 17 years. There is no question at all that he was the individual who walked into Chuck E. Cheese and murdered four people and tried to murder a fifth," Weir said. "There were 12 jurors, who didn't ask to be taken out of their community, but they served and they heard all of the evidence. They found Mr. Dunlap guilty."

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler spent weeks trying to convince the governor's office not to step into the matter and was very critical of the decision last week. In the immediate Denver area, only Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett was willing endorse the governor's decision whole-heartedly. We asked Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey for his reaction on Tuesday, but his office declined comment because it is currently considering the death penalty as an option in a quintuple homicide.

Governor Hickenlooper can still consider the temporary reprieve but strongly hinted he would not do so while he is still governor. Last week he said he decided to grant the reprieve not because of Dunlap's personal story, but rather because of his feelings on the death penalty in general.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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