AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A victim of the Aurora theater massacre said he believes defense lawyers and anti-death penalty groups have tried to use him like a pawn.
Marcus Weaver voiced his previous opposition to the death penalty and spoke and wrote about forgiving suspect James Holmes. His stance drew the attention of groups opposed to capital punishment and eventually led to a meeting with a victim’s advocate who worked for Holmes’ lawyers.READ MORE: 'Kendrick Was A Big Jeep Guy': Jeep Procession Honors Hero Who Charged At Gunman To Protect Classmates
That advocate, Tammy Krause, told Weaver she’d encountered difficulty reaching out to other victims.
Weaver said he felt puzzled by that.
“You’re a victim’s advocate,” he remembers telling Krause.
“I’m a DIVO,” he says she told him.
That’s short for Defense-Initiative Victims Outreach, a program that defense attorneys say help victims recover.
Weaver, 43, said when he was asked to disseminate a letter to other victims and victims’ family to dissuade them from supporting the death penalty in Holmes’ case, “that’s when it got really fuzzy,” he said.
“As the conversation … went on, she was not very clear about who she was, what her role was,” Weaver said.
That meeting with Krause happened through a series of connections Weaver made with people opposed to capital punishment. He originally became involved six months after the shooting when he was contacted by Guideposts Magazine to write a story about his life, how he felt about Holmes and how he forgave him — an act based on abuse Weaver suffered as a child.
During the attacks, Weaver was shot in the arm. His friend Rebecca Wingo was killed. James Holmes is accused of killing 12 and wounding 58 in the July 20, 2012, attack at an Aurora cineplex. He faces the death penalty if convicted. Holmes’ attorneys have all but conceded his role but claim he was insane at the time of the attack.
The prosecution polled victims and victims’ family members prior to the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s announcement that it would seek the death penalty. Most said they supported a capital case.
Before his meeting with Krause, Weaver spoke at a symposium about gun violence, specifically addressing the Aurora shooting and his death penalty views. Representatives from the Colorado anti-capital punishment group told Weaver they were interested in his sharing his story again.
“It wasn’t clear at first. I assume they wanted me to tell the story about how I forgive the shooter, how I am involved in a case that has the death penalty,” Weaver said.READ MORE: Steele Street Over Interstate 70 Closed This Weekend As Part Of Central 70 Project
Weaver said that victims have been contacted by groups on both sides of volatile issue — including anti-gun control organizations like the NRA and anti-capital punishment groups like Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Foundation.
Later came the meeting with Krause.
“It made me distrust the Colorado (anti-)death penalty folks, too, because she had arranged a dinner meeting with a person I thought was a possible advocate or a person who wanted to hear my story or wanted me to speak at an event,” Weaver said. “But what it turned out to be was something that was manipulative, I felt, in a way.”
He then called his lawyer, who arranged a meeting with the DA’s office and the defense. That was when it was explained to him that Krause worked for the defense team.
He’s also been approached by prominent anti-death penalty attorney David Lane.
“I want to empower the victims in the Holmes case to take a different path than the one given to them by the DA, which is a path of death and destruction,” Lane said.
The anti-death penalty foundation also introduced him to Bob Autobee, another anti-capital punishment advocate whose son, a prison guard, was murdered by an inmate. That inmate was spared largely because of Autobee’s actions.
Autobee wrote a letter inviting victims to meet with him, and he wanted Weaver to help him.
“I don’t feel anybody should be put to death,” Autobee said. “My message is, ‘Speak out if you’re against it because you’re going to have to live with your decision for the rest of your life.’ ”
But Weaver declined to distribute the letter.
Weaver said the victims seem to be caught between two opposing sides.
“There have been some unsavory things that have happened,” he said. “It just feels like we have been pitted in the middle.”Suzanne Morphew Murder: Judge Decides To Move Forward With Trial, Barry Morphew Pleads Not Guilty
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