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Hickenlooper Has Final Say On Nathan Dunlap’s Fate

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Nathan Dunlap in court on May 1 (credit: Denver Post)

Nathan Dunlap in court on May 1 (credit: Denver Post)

DENVER (CBS4)- Talks are under way that could decide if a man convicted of murdering four people inside a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant nearly 20 years ago will suffer the fate of the death penalty.

On Thursday the judge said Nathan Dunlap could be sentenced the week of Aug. 18 but also set a hearing on June 10 to hear arguments from Dunlap’s attorneys over the constitutionality of the death penalty.

Dunlap would be the first person executed in Colorado in 16 years.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has the final say over whether he will grant clemency for Dunlap, life in prison, rather than the death penalty he was sentenced to.

Hickenlooper has been meeting with all those involved in the case at the new judicial center in downtown Denver, including the victims’ families.

“What he decided to do was walk into a Chuck E. Cheese, wait until after everybody left to come out firing,” said attorney Jim Peters.

Peters was one of the prosecuting attorneys in the Dunlap case in 1993. Dunlap was convicted of shooting and killing four people, injuring a fifth at the Aurora restaurant, and taking $1,500 from the safe.

“There are only a certain number of states that actually allow the governor of that state to make that decision,” said CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser.

Hickenlooper will continue with meetings on Saturday.

“So a lot of different roles because what the governor is being asked to do is take the decision that was made by the jury and overturn it,” said Steinhauser.

Peters believes the case remains the same: one of cold-blooded murder that deserves nothing less than death.

“He has never expressed remorse, he’s only said it felt better than sex and that they’re all stupid. There are very few cases in my mind that warrant the death penalty. Mr. Dunlap is one of those,” said Peters.

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