DENVER (CBS4) — Democrats who control Colorado’s Legislature are rushing to act on a bill to repeal the state’s little-used death penalty. Only one man has been put to death in the state since 1967.
SB19-182 would only apply to offenses charged on or after July 1.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear the bill Wednesday afternoon, just two days after the proposal was introduced. The fast-track tactic mirrors a contentious Democrat-led proposal to overhaul oil and gas regulations to give local governments more authority over industry operations.
Lawmakers have tried before to repeal Colorado’s death penalty, which was last used in 1997. They cite the cost of capital punishment cases and racial disparities in sentencing.
Three people are on Colorado’s death row. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper indefinitely delayed the execution of one of them, Nathan Dunlap. Hickenlooper said he had doubts about the fairness of the death penalty.
First-term Democratic Gov. Jared Polis supports the 2019 bill.
Colorado has executed only one person since 1967, Gary Lee Davis, who was put to death in 1997 for kidnapping and raping Virginia May, 33, near her Byers home, then shooting her 14 times with a .22-caliber rifle.
Colorado law calls for lethal injections to be applied at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City.
Colorado has no physical “death row.” Inmates awaiting execution are held with others serving lesser sentences in “management control units” at the Sterling Correctional Facility in southern Colorado. These units are more closely monitored than other parts of the maximum security prison, but inmates awaiting capital punishment live in similar conditions.
WHO’S ON IT
NATHAN DUNLAP: Dunlap, now 41, was sentenced to die in 1996 for the shooting deaths of four workers — including three teens — who were cleaning a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last guaranteed appeal in February 2013, but Gov. John Hickenlooper granted him an indefinite reprieve in May 2013, nearly 20 years after his conviction and just three months before he was set to die. A future governor could lift the reprieve.
SIR MARIO OWENS: Owens, now 30, was sentenced to die 2008 for the shooting deaths of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe. Marshall-Fields, 21, was scheduled to testify against Owens and another man in a separate slaying. He and Wolfe, 22, were killed in 2005 while sitting in a car in Aurora. Appeals are pending.
ROBERT RAY: Ray, now 29, also was sentenced to die in 2009 for the shooting deaths of Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe. Marshall-Fields was set to testify against Ray and Sir Mario Owens in a separate slaying. Appeals are pending.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)