CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (AP) – The parents of a slain corrections officer shouldn’t be allowed to testify that they oppose the death penalty when the man charged with killing their son goes on trial, prosecutors say.
A prosecution motion filed Jan. 6 argues that Colorado law allows victims to testify about the impact a crime had on them but not about their opinions on the death penalty.
Bob Autobee, whose 23-year-old son Eric was beaten to death at a state prison in Limon in 2002, wants to testify against the death penalty at the trial of Edward Montour if Montour is convicted of murder.
The elder Autobee has said his son would have opposed the death penalty.
A motion filed by Bob Autobee’s attorney says he has a right to testify under Colorado law. It accuses prosecutors of trying to “muzzle” Autobee and shirking their responsibilities.
Montour was serving a life sentence for killing his infant daughter when authorities said he killed Eric Autobee. He pleaded guilty to the slaying in 2003, and a judge sentenced him to death.
The state Supreme Court overturned the sentence in 2007, saying only a jury could impose the death penalty.
The case had been on hold until April, when a Douglas County judge allowed Montour to withdraw his original plea.
Montour then pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, sending the case to a retrial. In April, District Attorney George Brauchler announced he would seek the death penalty.
Jury selection is underway.
Bob Autobee has protested the death penalty outside the Douglas County courthouse, where prospective jurors were lined up. He carried a picture of his son and a sign that said in part, “The Autobee family will not be a party to this lynch mob.”
Brauchler is also district attorney for Arapahoe County and is seeking the death penalty there for James Holmes, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people in the Aurora theater shootings.
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