Gary Lee Davis: Colorado's last volunteer for the death penalty

nathan dunlap.jpg
Nathan Dunlap.
With the aid of his wife, Davis had committed a depraved and horrible crime -- the 1986 kidnapping, rape and sexual assault of 32-year-old Virginia May. He admitted to committing as many as fifteen other rapes -- though his bizarre stories about the sources of his rage and violence changed over time. Davis sabotaged his own defense and shortcut the appeals process, preferring lethal injection to a life spent in solitary confinement. Yet it still took more than a decade for him to pay for his crime.

During that time, another member of Colorado's death row died of natural causes, cheating the executioner. And Nathan Dunlap arrived on death row for killing four people in a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora in 1993.

sir mario owens.jpg
Sir Mario Owens.
Nearly twenty years later, Dunlap is still there. His appeals are just about exhausted. Not so the other condemned men in Colorado's prison system, Sir Mario Owens and Robert Ray; the allegations of inadequate counsel, prosecution misconduct and other ethical quandaries surrounding their trials ought to give the courts a workout for years to come.

In short, it's hard to get the death penalty in Colorado -- and even harder to get a willing volunteer. Families hoping to see the death penalty imposed on the Aurora theater shooter may have to get used to the idea of seeing justice delayed not just years, but decades.

More from our Prison Life archive: "Eddie Ives's botched execution and replacing the noose with the gas chamber."

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I don't understand the point of the death penalty option if states refuse to use it. No point in giving a jury/judge the option. 


the death penalty is a welfare system for already wealthy attorneys,if you cannot be executed within 6 months,with only one appeal,then do away with it and save the taxpayers millions


I would take death over a life of incarceration ANY DAY !

Especially if only existing at C.S.P. , in Canon City ...

michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

 @rjshep45 Strong observation, rjshep45. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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