Nathan Dunlap clemency bid: "No principled reason" to execute quadruple murderer

Categories: News, Prison Life

nathan.dunlap.mug.shot.205x205.jpg
More photos below.
The decision by attorneys for accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes to enter a not guilty by reason of insanity plea seems motivated mainly by an effort to avoid the death penalty.

Those representing Nathan Dunlap, convicted of killing four people at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in 1993, are taking a different tack. They're asking Governor John Hickenlooper to grant clemency based on factors such as mental illness, his troubled upbringing and the "broken" death penalty system.

There's no denying the brutality of Dunlap's crime, which is vividly depicted in "The Politics of Killing," a 2008 article in 5280 hooked to the possibility of Bill Ritter, Hickenlooper's predecessor as governor, deciding to go the clemency route -- which he didn't.

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The crime scene.
Four employees at the restaurant -- Margaret Kohlberg, fifty, Sylvia Crowell, nineteen, and Ben Grant and Colleen O'Conner, both seventeen -- were shot to death by Dunlap, while a fifth, twenty-year-old Bobby Stephens, was grievously wounded but survived. Here's an excerpt from the 5280 piece, based on Stephens's account:
Sylvia didn't even hear the intruder come up behind her. Silently, he raised the .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol to her left ear and squeezed.

Bang.

As she fell, he looked away. He couldn't stomach the sight of gore and blood. He moved quickly to where Ben was vacuuming.

Bang.

The bullet entered near Ben's eye, lodging in his brain as he fell to the ground.

Colleen saw him coming. He was a boy with a gun; he had too-big brown eyes above hollowed cheeks and a mouth that twisted in a half-smile. Kneeling in front of him, she begged for her life, raising her arms, her fists clenched, as he held a gun just 18 inches from her head.

"Don't shoot," she cried. "I won't tell."

"I have to," the shooter said as he pulled the trigger again.

Bang.

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An early Nathan Dunlap booking photo.
It didn't take cops long to track down Dunlap, then nineteen, who'd eaten dinner at the restaurant earlier in the evening. He was finally convicted in 1996 and sentenced to die for his crimes.

He's lingered on death row since then, with plenty of legal machinations surrounding him -- but earlier this month, an execution date was set for the week of August 18-24. That was followed by a petition for executive clemency, which offers a plethora of reasons why Hickenlooper should grant it. The entire document is below, but here's a breakdown.

The request begins with criticisms of the death penalty and the way it's utilized in this country. Bishop James Gonia of the Lutheran Evangelical Church believes that "executions harm society by mirroring and reinforcing existing injustice. The death
penalty distracts us from our work toward a just society. It deforms our response to
violence at the individual, familial, institutional, and systemic levels. It perpetuates cycles of violence." Likewise, Nita Gonzales and Gene Lucero of the Colorado Latino forum maintain that "race and class should not be the consistent determinants of who gets executed."

Continue for more about Nathan Dunlap's clemency petition.


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49 comments
johnbonhamdrummer
johnbonhamdrummer

This is total bullshit. I have suffered from bipolar disorder all of my life and I do not agree with this. I've never felt an urge to murder innocent people. I absolutely think the death penalty is warranted because bipolar disorder doesn't detach you from reality.

Gramis
Gramis

The system of capital punishment in Colorado is broken and must be ended. Studies have shown that Colorado's use of capital punishment is disproportionate, biased and unfair. It's time to admit this is a failed policy and end the use of capital punishment in our state.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

The ONLY 'just' way to preform an execution is 'stoning', w/ all rocks being thrown by surviving family members . 

Should they refuse, LIFE W/O !!! 

It's just an idea ......

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

There are many cases similar and a great number have resulted in life w/o, I believe partially due to the age & race of the defendant . Perhaps had he been white & had received better representation, the original life plea MAY have been accepted ...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Death is NOT a Penalty ... Death ENDS Suffering.

"I said years ago that I'd rather get death than life, and that still is true today," Jodi Arias told a Phoenix television station. "I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I'd rather just have my freedom as soon as I can get it."

Michelle Pearl Mobley
Michelle Pearl Mobley

My father used to beat me so bad, he broke my back. Shall I go out and off everyone who has pissed me off?

Susan Niemi-Mick
Susan Niemi-Mick

He should've been executed years ago. I was on the execution team for him and we were training when all of a sudden, everything stopped. Nothing. No explanation.

Janet Beaudry-Jerde
Janet Beaudry-Jerde

There was no pricipled reason to kill innocent people who were just working and trying make a living.

Federico Valerio
Federico Valerio

What about the other "principal" reason: that he got caught!

David Kotzebue
David Kotzebue

He was in the throes of a manic bipolar episode. That's a very serious mental condition. He should get life.

Pam Stiffler
Pam Stiffler

Interesting that insanity was only an issue AFTER the Holmes attorney pleaded that way...

Bret Egan
Bret Egan

Yes there is. The jury and judge acted lawfully in their duty. This asshat did not.

Naomi Benavidez
Naomi Benavidez

And there was no reason why he murdered all them innocent people either.

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

"No principled reason" to execute quadruple murderer

True.

But, sometimes you just want revenge. Nathan committed a heinous crime.

Green_eyes
Green_eyes

Dunlap deserves to die for his crime.... So does Holmes... I have no sympathy for either one, they made their choice, being insane or bipolar doesn't justify their actions......

Nandrolone
Nandrolone

Mama always said "two wrongs don't make a right."

lesleybrown878
lesleybrown878

@Gramis I strongly disagree. It should be expanded to include the executions of those who feign insanity to escape equal punishment for their crimes. It only serves to laugh in the face of the victims and their families, and there is no principled reason to allow it.  

Nandrolone
Nandrolone

@Juan_Leg very interesting. it is so much easier to say some things than actually do them. Hell, it used to be done to one person a year a long time ago as ritualistic sacrifice, ever seen The Lottery?

Nandrolone
Nandrolone

@Juan_Leg Yes, the jury said had they known of certain information of Dunlap they would not have chosen death. I hope Hick hangs the death penalty up forever, the nation will follow Colorado's lead. The statesmen and officials in Colorado have an opportunity for greatness attached to their names and the rest of the nation will follow just because it comes from an initiative in Colorado, based on the reputation of the state.

p.mcintyre1948
p.mcintyre1948

I Think What It Boils Down To Is:  EVERYONE Has Their Likes And Dislikes---If Someone Doesn't Like Something About Someone---Say For Example---Someone's Looks---It Goes Against That Person---It Is Not Fair---But---That Is The Way People Are!!!---They Can't Change That---It Is Just Part Of Being Human!!!

p.mcintyre1948
p.mcintyre1948

@DonkeyHotay That May Very Well Be True---But---You Don't Really Know That---I It Is Very Fearsome For Most People---Knowing They Are Going To Die Soon!!!

Green_eyes
Green_eyes

Hopefully Jodi is set free......

p.mcintyre1948
p.mcintyre1948

@Michelle Pearl Mobley The Answer Is The Question---Here---Of Course Not!---And, I Bet You Are---Glad---That You Didn't Go "Off"---Because---It Would Have Been MUCH Worse For You---And---It Sure Sounds Like You Know That!!!

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Michelle Pearl Mobley   No. Just cops ......

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Susan Niemi-Mick ... Jesus would be impressed with your Blood Lust.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Janet Beaudry-Jerde  ... Like the 100,000+ innocent Iraqi Civilians -- women and children -- that died as a result of the unlawful U$ attack and invasion of Iraq?


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Green_eyes ... HMIOBPWJE ?

How many insane or bipolar people would Jesus execute?


kasa.god
kasa.god

@Green_eyes It only explains them, and you don't kill people that went out of control from an untreated mental illness.  Life in prison with treatment, if they want to plead insanity.  Most heinous crimes come from mentally ill persons who don't know they have an illness that requires serous treatment.  Holmes deserves to be locked up the rest of his life on medication.  Personally I'd choose the death penalty than serve life, then again I wouldn't do anything to get life in prison.  I think life in prison is a far worse punishment than the death penalty so even if the death penalty was a good thing, Holmes shouldn't be spared so easily.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Green_eyes Thanks for the post, Green_eyes. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Appreciate you weighing in.

Nandrolone
Nandrolone

@p.mcintyre1948 That's is not a valid argument. People have been taught to be this way. The schools placed too much emphasis on individualism instead of multiculturalism. They have been taught not to think, to only follow. To be seen and not heard.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Green_eyes

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. -- 1 John 1:9


Green_eyes
Green_eyes

I'm not worried about what Jesus would do......... Dunlap and Holmes both deserve to die for their actions..... If you disagree, well that's your opinion....

DBman
DBman

@michael.roberts@Green_eyesThis is your comment of the day??  Absolutely zero logic, and you're going to trumpet this?  Searching hard for controversy, eh Westword? At least make Barnes your COD, whose comment -- "sometimes you just want revenge" -- can be credited for  honesty.

Of course being insane means there was no "choice" involved.  That's the fracking definition of insanity.  Look, if we're going to kill someone who's insane, let's at least have the balls to admit we're doing so out of revenge.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay @Green_eyes  Hide Dunlap's children & chickens ! They are NOT safe according to Jesus !

Will Jesus respect the new firearm restrictions ???

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay @Green_eyes  

"You killed Kenny !!!"

"You BASTARDS !!!"

South Park / Episode 1 - 

And yet, no one has been executed .....

I mean if Hotay is going to start quoting the bible ......

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Green_eyes

 If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins.  I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle ...  -- Leviticus 26:21-2


Green_eyes
Green_eyes

Do you know how many horrible people believe that????

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Green_eyes

But any prophet who claims to give a message from another god or who falsely claims to speak for me must die.'  -- Deuteronomy 18:20

Green_eyes
Green_eyes

I said I wasn't very religios, I didn't say I didn't have faith... I doubt God ever intended religion....

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Green_eyes

Everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.  -- 2 Chronicles 15:13

Green_eyes
Green_eyes

I'm sorry DonkeyHotay, I'm not very religious anymore....

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Green_eyes

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” -- Romans 12:19

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