Prosecutor Wants Delay In Prison Guard Death Trial
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (AP) – The father of a Colorado prison guard killed more than a decade ago begged a judge on Thursday not to delay the suspect’s trial, despite emerging questions about whether he committed the crime that put him in prison in the first place.
Edward Montour was serving a life sentence for the 1997 death of his 11-week-old daughter Taylor Montour when prosecutors say he beat to death corrections officer Eric Autobee in 2002. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and prosecutors sought the death penalty.
District Attorney George Brauchler on Thursday asked a judge to delay the trial, saying his office needs months to respond to new questions raised by the defense about whether Montour actually killed his daughter. During jury selection, defense attorneys announced they would call witnesses who would testify that Taylor Montour suffered an undiagnosed bone disease, and her death was an accident. A coroner on Tuesday reclassified the girl’s death from homicide to unknown. Brauchler asked the judge to eliminate the witnesses or postpone the trial.
Douglas County District Judge Richard B. Caschette made no decision Thursday and said he would issue a ruling in writing. Opening arguments are set to begin next week.
Autobee’s father told the judge he objected to any delay.
“My wife and my family, we could get on with our lives right now,” Bob Autobee said. “We’re stuck in this terrible place. We can’t move forward.”
Autobee has forgiven Montour and become an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, protesting outside the courthouse before prospective jurors. He had wanted to testify about his opposition to capital punishment for Montour during the penalty phase if Montour is convicted. But Caschette ruled Wednesday he would not allow any witness to tell the jury whether it should impose a death sentence.
Brauchler said he did not know whether a review of the defense’s new evidence would lead him to drop the death penalty, as Montour’s attorneys have requested.
“At the end of the day, what I care about is justice,” Brauchler said during Thursday’s hearing. “And if at the end of the day that doesn’t lead to the death penalty, so be it.”
But Montour’s attorney, David Lane, said prosecutors have been aware since 2012 that the defense planned to re-explore Montour’s original conviction.
“I have no faith in this office that they are going to do anything other than try to kill Edward Montour,” Lane said.
– By SADIE GURMAN, Associated Press
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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