DENVER (CBS4/AP) — Colorado’s Senate has indefinitely postponed consideration of a death penalty repeal bill, apparently lacking the votes to remove the little-used capital punishment from the books.
CBS4 confirmed a sponsor of the bill requested Tuesday that further consideration of the bill be postponed until May 4 — a day after the 2019 Legislative session ends.
Democrats have a 19-16 majority in the Senate. But at least one, Sen. Rhonda Fields, had vowed to oppose the bill. Two men on Colorado’s death row were convicted in the murder of her son and his fiancee.
At least four other party members hadn’t publicly committed to vote for repeal.
Lawmakers have tried before to repeal Colorado’s death penalty. 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.
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.)