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John Hickenlooper gives Nathan Dunlap reprieve from death but doesn't grant clemency

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More photos below.
Moments ago, Governor John Hickenlooper announced his decision regarding the scheduled execution of Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted in 1996 of killing four people and seriously wounding a fifth during an assault three years earlier at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant.

Rather than granting clemency, as had been requested by those supporting Dunlap, Hickenlooper chose to offer a reprieve -- a temporary delay that can be reversed by a future governor if he or she so chooses.

News leaked about Hickenlooper's decision in the hour prior to his scheduled 2 p.m. press conference (which got underway a few minutes late), apparently thanks to District Attorney George Brauchler, a death penalty advocate who felt that Dunlap deserved the ultimate discipline. He confirmed to 7News and other news agencies that Hickenlooper had chosen to grant a reprieve -- a decision with which he wholeheartedly disagrees.

Copies of the executive order confirming Brauchler's statements were circulated in the moments before Hickenlooper walked to the podium in the west foyer of the State Capitol.

nathan.dunlap.executive.order.jpg
A look at the executive order.
When Hickenlooper stepped forward, he declined to mention Dunlap by name in announcing his course of action, choosing instead to refer to him as "offender number 89148," under the rationale that he'd gotten enough notoriety already for his terrible acts.

Hickenlooper thanked the victims of the murderous attack for sharing their stories with him and stressed that the decision had "weighed heavily on me for, well, it's been over a year now." But given his statutory responsibilities, "inaction wasn't an option."

Among the questions Hickenlooper asked himself in considering what he would do included mulling whether the death penalty was "just or moral" and "a benefit to the world." The more he studied the topic, the more he concluded that the system was imperfect -- and given the seriousness of the subject, "it really needs to be perfect."

He stressed that he had no doubt about "the heinous nature of the crimes committed," but he was troubled by "the inequity of the system.

"I am deeply respectful of the suffering and loss that occurs," he said. "But it's hard to see...the benefit of the capital punishment system" -- one that takes fifteen to twenty years to wind through the court system and "extends the emotional hardship for those families... "

In the end, he realized that he couldn't in good conscience give the go-ahead to "kill someone who is no risk to society."

At the same time, Hickenlooper said he didn't feel comfortable taking "the larger step" of granting full clemency. He viewed the reprieve as a way to show "respect to all the jurors and judges and prosecutors...respect to the rule of law in the State of Colorado."

After his opening statement, Hickenlooper took a number of questions. He characterized the reaction of family members of those killed by Dunlap as "largely disappointment... The majority of the families really did feel they'd get closure from an execution."

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Hickenlooper at today's news conference.
In the end, though, he took another path, based on the bigger picture.

"Every study we've seen demonstrates that there's no deterrence by having a death penalty in a state," he said. "It doesn't make you safer. And there's ample examples of innocent people in other states being sentenced to death. The fallibility is clear, the inequity.... These facts, and I could go on for a half an hour, have been widely disseminated, but people aren't aware of these facts.... It's not just random that so many states have repealed the death penalty, and so many countries have done away with the death penalty."

Also against capital punishment, he said, was Tom Clements, the Department of Corrections head assassinated earlier this year, presumably by recent parolee Evan Ebel. "He was a pretty hardass, tough head of corrections," Hickenlooper stressed. "But he was adamantly against the death penalty. He and his wife, Lisa, were against the death penalty, and Lisa's still against the death penalty, even after what happened to her husband."

Clements's argument against capital punishment at a meeting a year or so ago "affected everybody in the room," Hickenlooper recalled.

The next governor of Colorado can choose to lift Dunlap's reprieve, Hickenlooper pointed out -- so he didn't take the decision away from him or her. Still, he doubts that his successor will reverse course.

"I think it's more likely, and this is my bias, having spent this amount of time immersed in the issue, that as the facts get out, more and more people in the State of Colorado will say, 'This isn't the best solution....' Maybe the better solution would be to get people off the streets and give them life without parole and stop talking about it."

With that, one person in the gallery began to applaud.

Continue reading for Governor Hickenlooper's formal statement, a response from attorneys/Dunlap supporters Madeline Cohen and Philip Cherner, and the complete executive order, followed by our earlier coverage.



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112 comments
DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death.  -- Deuteronomy 17:12

Tony Tafoya
Tony Tafoya

this man is getting played out lets get a new one lol

Eric Delgado
Eric Delgado

We ALL must suffer the consequences of our actions... For Nathan Dunlap death is his justice.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Gun control won't lose Hickenlooper reelection.  This will.  And he knows it.  I think he's decided not to run.

Kevin Clowers
Kevin Clowers

The game he and his pals play is Control without Responsibility. He wants power without consequence for his action. The great crisis of our civilization is Form vs Substance. We have been and are being conditioned to accept attractive hollowed out shapes. Sometimes the most substantial things in this experience are not appreciated until you must lean on them and you realize they don't collapse when it's important. Even if they aren't really pretty.

Vanessa Whatley
Vanessa Whatley

Hickenlooper is a idiot!! Why does this piece of shit get to live while those people lost their lives?

Jay Jurgens
Jay Jurgens

Facts are facts and its indisputable that he killed innocent people while they were eating. Now he sits in jail with his glasses that he didn't pay for. Smiling for the cameras acting like he's a celebrity and the fact is he's scared of dying and facing his maker. As I said before its his turn to die just like the innocent people he gutlessly shot and killed. This system slays me in that there are people locked up for smoking pot or a drivers license offense while these death row scumbags sit and suck the systems tit. Sucking money that could go to something useful to keep a worthless murderer alive that's never even apologized or shown remorse for his crime and then has them throws a fit because he got convicted Watch the video

Nandrolone
Nandrolone

The D.A. is enraged that Hick is putting"politics over process"...what the Governor has done is put "people over process," ALL the people. Politics and people intertwine, virtually the same because they involve the welfare of the people. The politics of the people have prevailed under the Governor's decision tonight.

kityempire
kityempire

I believe that hundreds of studies, reports and wrongful convictions demand that  the death penalty never be a feasible option for sentencing, ever. Let Dunlap spend the rest of his life rotting and safely tucked away  in the horror show of  a Supermax prison. Hickenlooper was elected not to do what he felt would make him most popular- but what he felt was the best, and most educated decision. I support this decision and applaud Hick for trusting his conscience instead of the polls.

Kity Ironton

Richard Lightburn
Richard Lightburn

Dunlap should be executed for what he did!! How long ago did this happen? I know we were living in Lakewood at the time and we have been down here for 13 years.

Pam Stiffler
Pam Stiffler

I can't post what I feel, so I hope BOTH of them rot, Hick right next to the freaking murderer!

betweenthelines
betweenthelines

If Mr. Dunlap had any balls he would kill himself. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 Boulder DA and State Legislator, support reprieve for Dunlap

Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett and Boulder Rep. Clare Levy applauded the decision Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper to grant convicted killer Nathan Dunlap a "temporary reprieve" from an execution and expressed hope it would help spark a conversation about repealing the death penalty in Colorado altogether.

http://www.dailycamera.com/state-west-news/ci_23302092/boulder-da-legislator-support-reprieve-dunlap

Noah Yetter
Noah Yetter

The latter. The death penalty is wrong, and Hickenlooper has an opportunity to do the right thing by granting clemency. I doubt he will take hold of that opportunity, since he is a spineless, maneuvering opportunist.

Jeanne McDonald
Jeanne McDonald

Boulder? Are you referring to me? Never lived there, though would like to. Revenge is ugly & has no place in a civilized society. No person nor government is so omniscient that it can determine who should die. If its cost you're concerned about, read the volumes of research - taxpayers pay significantly more per inmate on death row than those who spend a lifetime in prison. So far no one has given a rational explanation why Nathan Dunlop should be killed...and the beat goes on...until we're all blind & toothless.

dfrick113
dfrick113

Hickenlooper is such an A-- has always been a fence sitter could NEVER MAKE A DECISION TO SAVE HIS LIFE !!!! Here is a Criminal who Killed 5 INNOCENT PEOPLE -- WITH MALLACE And our Wonderful Govenor can't use the death penalty enacted by law in our state .... BOOHOO BLAH BLAH BLAH ... WHAT A WIMP !

wtf_over
wtf_over

Let's see, pass new laws restricting guns and then when you catch someone who uses them to commit mass murder you hide behind reasons of your own totally ignoring the facts, judge and jury who followed the law ?

WOW

Caleb Mather
Caleb Mather

Dunlap earned his right to a fair execution!

Jay Jurgens
Jay Jurgens

Hey David if you want him to live so badly then YOU pay for him to stay in prison. Killing him may not bring loved ones back but he won't be walking into some other place to do it again. All you people that don't want the death penalty should be paying for this scumbag to sit his sorry ass in prison. And if he gets out I hope he comes and moves in right next door to YOU

Jay Jurgens
Jay Jurgens

Are you kidding me?didnt this chump get caught holding the bag so to speak. They are letting CRIMINALS out early because they can't afford to keep them locked out and this murderer wants clemency? KILL HIM AND BE GLAD HE CAN'T WALK INTO SOME OTHER PLACE AND COMMIT THE SAME CRIME AGAIN

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Eric Delgado ... spoken like a bloodthirsty barbarian.


michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Kevin Clowers Interesting observations, Kevin. Thanks.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Vanessa Whatley ... ask Jesus.

dgdawg222
dgdawg222

@Richard LightburnAURORA, Colo. July 26, 2012  21 years ago

fognl7
fognl7

@Pam Stiffler So hoping someone rots is the censored version of how you feel?

adarc
adarc

@Noah Yetter 

It is not the Governor's job to decide what is right or moral for all the people in his state.

If the people in his state support the Death Penalty, he has sworn to uphold the laws of his state.

reagan09
reagan09

How about ridding the world of an evil person who has no problem murdering people? To me that's a justifiable reason to execute him. And you are correct, the way our justice system works it is cheaper to commute a death sentence to life. But if upon conviction of murder they took that person out behind the courthouse and executed them instead of putting them on death row for 20 years, death would be cheaper.

dfrick113
dfrick113

EXACTLY , but as long as we have a WIMP in charge who feels the Laws were passed for somebody Else to follow ... And POOR HICKENLOOPER just does not have the balls it takes to punish somebody who PURPOUSFULLY KILLED INNOCENT PEOPLE ,... well what can one do but sit in shock !!!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Jay Jurgens ... why not Execute ALL Prisoners ??? ... think of all the $$$ inbred lowlife knuckle-dragging barbarians like you could save!

dfrick113
dfrick113

Better Yet.. perhaps he could set This nice Deserving Young Man Up in HIS BASEMENT .. You know a nice little apartment.. Food . Vehicle. .. How about a Big Screen TV , gee he deserves that too Mr Hickenlooper .. And I am sure you will feel safe with him living in YOUR basement .... RIGHT ???

reagan09
reagan09

Your comment makes no sense. Please clarify.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@adarc"It is not the Governor's job to decide what is right or moral for all the people in his state."

Epic FAIL! .. it is EXACTLY the Governor's job --by the Power Granted by THE CONSTITUTION -- to exercise Executive Clemency.

The PEOPLE of Colorado, and the U$A have granted that Executive Power to the Governor and the President, respectively.

If you're so hell-bent on killing someone, then have the spine and the guts to do it yourself, coward.

adarc
adarc

@reagan09 

Actually putting a bullet in their brain immediately after the trial would be cheaper. Doesn't it disgust you that we spend more money to keep criminals alive  than we spend to help the elderly, or orphans, or war veterans?  

adarc
adarc

@DonkeyHotay @dfrick113 

Maybe not - but sure means the rest of us don't have to worry about this shitbag getting out.

What you don't realize is that "lifein prison"  IS a penalty for the witnesses and families of the victims. Every time a murdere comes up for parole, they have to drag themselves back through the details of the crime in order to testisty to keep the menace behind bars.

fognl7
fognl7

@dfrick113   If only he had the temerity to post his opinion anonymously online, like us brave patriots. 

Caps LOCK for extra ballZ.

reagan09
reagan09

I like how you call everyone names when you disagree with their way of thinking. It shows much more maturity than making a valid argument.

Please explain how death is not a penalty! It's punishment for a crime or infraction commited that is specifically illegal according to a written law...

Nobody said anything about executing all prisoners. That's just you being irrational and making stuff up and being immature.

So if someone waltzed into your house and stabbed your mom to death in front of you, would you want that person to be able to live out their life in prison because someone diagnosed them as "crazy"? Or would you want them executed in a humane way so their evil does not affect or infect anyone else on this earth? I, for one, would want this person dead asap. Now go ahead, start calling me names for making an argument for the death penalty...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@reagan09

If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.  -- Leviticus 20:10

dgdawg222
dgdawg222

@DonkeyHotay @adarc Spine or guts? Is that what it takes to kill someone? How do you know? Ever had to kill?  Would I be able to kill a random innocent person that did absolutely nothing to no one ever? Not a chance. You put me in a room with Nathan Dunlap it would be the easiest thing in the world to do after causing me and others such pain for 21 years. Could I kill ignorant commentators, @DonkeyHotay , that prefer name calling and ideology over what is truly right and wrong? Easy as pie. You have an opinion and so do i and @adarc. You are the zombie society wants you to be. Go back to your 9 to 5 and blind eye and state more about "your" constitution  that no one in power gives two shits, about and will violate it, whenever they want to. How about stating an opinion that is original and bias. Would you feel different had he killed a member of your family? I guarantee you would. "Dumbass". 

See that didnt make me feel better!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@adarc ... perhaps you'd be happier living with the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@adarc ... no one cares that you "worry" about such absurd nonsense.

There is NO PAROLE for a converted Death > Life in Prison sentence.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@adarc ... blood vengeance is for savages ... like you.

Civilized societies have moved beyond such barbaric practices.

There are NO PAROLE hearings for Life in Prison WITHOUT Parole sentences, you ignorant fuckwit.

adarc
adarc

@DonkeyHotay @reagan09 

So what? It also give the victims and their families  a certain amount of peace and space to go on with their lives. They don't have to worry that the psycho will escape, they don;t have to go to endless "parole' hearings.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@reagan09 "Please explain how death is not a penalty! "

You ain't the sharpest tack in the box, are you?

Death ENDS Suffering -- there is NO MORE PAIN, they're dead!

TORTURE is a PENALTY, PAIN is a PENALTY, MISERY is a PENALTY, being locked in a cage for every Second of every Minute of every Hour of every Day of every Month of every Year of every Decade for the rest of one's life is a PENALTY.

DEATH ENDS ALL THAT.

Grow a brain you clueless simpleton.


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