Death penalty poll: Hickenlooper's decision to let Nathan Dunlap live loses nearly 3-1

Categories: News, Politics

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Photos and more below.
There was an uproar immediately after Governor John Hickenlooper granted a temporary reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, the condemned killer who murdered four people and badly injured a fifth in 1993 -- and not just from critics like Colorado Attorney General John Suthers or Tom Tancredo, who said he's running for governor in part because of Hick's decision. A new poll (see it below) shows a large majority of Coloradans disapprove -- and suggests that the issue could loom large in Hickenlooper's 2014 reelection bid.

As we reported last month, Hickenlooper declined to mention Dunlap by name while announcing the reprieve, instead referring to him as "offender number 89148," under the rationale that he'd gotten enough notoriety already for his terrible acts, which took place at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant.

He subsequently 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."

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Hickenlooper at the news conference announcing his decision in the Dunlap case.
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."

This explanation thrilled death-penalty opponents, but not most potential voters according to a newly released survey from Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Indeed, the numbers aren't even close.

Overall support for the death penalty was 69-24 percent, with disapproval of the Dunlap decision in a similar range, 67-27 percent.

Tom Tancredo.
Just as problematic for Hickenlooper: A whopping 74 percent of respondents said that the death penalty will be either "very important" or "somewhat important" to them as they choose which candidate to back for governor. And although more men than women favored capital punishment, both genders overwhelmingly endorsed its use: Men were pro-death penalty by a 75-21 percent margin; women checked in at 63-27 percent.

Even the majority of Hickenlooper's fellow Democrats would keep the death penalty on the books, albeit by a more modest number, 49-41 percent. But independents (73-21 percent) are almost as favorably disposed to the ultimate penalty as are Republicans (87-11 percent).

These numbers are good news for gubernatorial hopeful Tancredo, who the pollsters say is only a whisper behind Hickenlooper right now, with 41 percent support as opposed to 42 percent. Other potential opponents do almost as well, including Secretary of State Scott Gessler (42-40 percent) and state senator Greg Brophy (43-37 percent).

To put it mildly, these early digits will shift and shift again many times before November 2014. But the continuing courtroom drama surrounding the efforts of 18th Judicial District prosecutors to execute James Holmes for the Aurora theater killings last July are sure to keep the topic in the news throughout that span. As such, a main focus of the governor's race is likely to be life and death.

Here's the Quinnipiac University poll, followed by Hickenlooper's executive order in regard to Nathan Dunlap.

Quinnipiac University Death Penalty Poll

Nathan Dunlap Executive Order

More from our Follow That Story archive: "John Hickenlooper gives Nathan Dunlap reprieve from death but doesn't grant clemency."

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44 comments
DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 Poll: Majority of Citizens Wanted Jesus to be Crucified;  Pontious Pilot denied a stay of execution.

How'd that work out?


Richard Lightburn
Richard Lightburn

Why do they let cases go on this long. He was convicted how many years ago? All the appeals,etc. He should have had the electric chair already or what ever process they use nowdays. I am sorry I dont have much sm

Che Harness
Che Harness

If there's a 3rd party candidate available, of course. But not really because of this.

Chris Cater
Chris Cater

My reason for not voting for him again is because is signed a law making it illegal for pot smokers to drive, ever.......

Tony Diaz
Tony Diaz

I wouldn't vote against him, but I still don't understand his thoughts

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 *** Poll says 3:1 Coloradans are Bloodthirsty un-Christian Savages ***


Angela Taylor
Angela Taylor

YES!! I will definitely NOT vote for anyone who can not uphold what the courts rule. BOOO Hickenpooper!

Jay Jurgens
Jay Jurgens

I hope this scumbag gets buttraped with a sharp instrument

Jay Jurgens
Jay Jurgens

I watched in horror as my friend and father and husband bled to death shot by a man that thought respect is earned by holding a gun. Another black man that was a disgrace to his race still pisses me off. I miss you Bruce and I will never forget

Jay Jurgens
Jay Jurgens

I think he should have let him go straight to gas chamber. I know alot of people are going to disagree with my opinion. I have been on the other side of of things that I base my opinion of being for the death penalty. If people want him to stay in prison then let them pay for this scumbags needs. He deserves what he gave and there us no doubt of his guilt so let him die and cut him off the prison systems tit. He should face the same fear of death as the people he murdered

Armin Cosmo Sarabi
Armin Cosmo Sarabi

I dot advocate taking any life. It's not up to me to judge. So I would vote for him for not killing someone.

Eric W. Olsen
Eric W. Olsen

I am disappointed, but I am more concerned about the fracking. However, I am not disappointed enough to vote for any of the candidates that are Republican.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

YEA !!!!!!!!!!

SCARY PHOTO OF DUNLAP !!!!!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!!

Kim Wright
Kim Wright

yes. I feel that he choose not to make a decision, and left it up to the next govenor. So he must not want to run or win a 2nd term.

Jen Neb
Jen Neb

Yes..when you accept a Gubernatorial position, the law needs to be upheld, personal opinions put aside

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Once Hick IS outta' office, I hope he returns downtown where he belongs . Should you run into him and or his lovely wife & daughter, do say hello . He's a truly good person w/ a wonderful family . 

Too good for the job it's turning out ....

Chad Hill
Chad Hill

Am tired of bundled politics. Gov. Hick followed his conscience and I respect that. When election time comes, will vote for who I think is most qualified and experienced. Just because I support the second amendment doesn't make me a religious conservative extremist.

Eddie Tejada
Eddie Tejada

Nope. I understnad his stance on guns (im a gun guy and a NRA member) but when you slap the victims in the face like he did, its unacceptable. He has total disreguad for the court system, jurors and the judge.

Mark Paco Slosky
Mark Paco Slosky

I supported the death penalty for this monster Nathan Dunlap but Governor Hicklenlooper made a decision of conscious. I cant fault him for that. Even though I disagree I will vote for him again. Political scum like Tancredo can rant all they want but at least Hick did what he thought was right and not what was politically advantageous. Go away Tancredo! Please!

Brad Aerts
Brad Aerts

Hickenlooper is done because his stance on guns

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay  

When we FINALLY meet & shake hands, don't forget to bring the Derp w/ ya ! You 'two' are a riot !!!

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Chris Cater Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chris. Much appreciated.

El_Derpo
El_Derpo

ChrisDumbass <== derp derp derp

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Chris Cater  WHY ? YOU VOTED YES ON A64,  DUMBASS !!!

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Tony Diaz Interesting. Thanks for the post, Tony.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Angela Taylor ... so execute him yourself you vengeful bloodthirsty bitch.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Jay Jurgens   I hope you find peace one day my friend . Your pain is felt & shared .

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Jay Jurgens A passionate argument, Jay -- one we're going to feature as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Jay Jurgens ... you make the Baby Jesus cry.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Armin Cosmo Sarabi  I applaud your brave comment !

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Eric W. Olsen A thoughtful post, Eric. Thanks.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Jen Neb ... the Constitution gives the Governor THE POWER to commute, pardon or stay sentences.

Uphold the Constitutional Power granted to The Governor!


Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Eddie Tejada  Hick's NOT a politician ......

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Mark Paco Slosky  

After Jay's, this is a close 2nd !

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Mark Paco Slosky  Thank you for the BRAVE voice of reason ! 

I totally agree !

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay 

 " Would someone PLEASE make that f'n baby QUIT CRYING !!!??? "

"Jesus Christ already ......... "

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay @michael.roberts  

LOL !!!  Be careful Hotay . Your comments WILL disappear as mine have started ....

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