DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado state representatives will advance a bill to repeal Colorado’s death penalty sentence. The vote will now advance to a roll call vote.
The vote happened just before 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.
It now goes to a full roll call vote, which is not currently scheduled.
After 12 hours of emotional debate the Colorado House of Representatives made history and PASSED the repeal of the death penalty on 2nd reading. Thank you to the bill sponsors Reps. @benavidezhd32 and @RepJeniArndt. I am proud to stand with you. #coleg
— Leslie Herod (@leslieherod) February 25, 2020
Abolishing capital punishment has been tried in the state Legislature at least five times previously.
The bill would apply to offenses charged on or after July 1, 2020. Then, the death penalty would not be a sentencing option for a defendant convicted of a Class 1 felony.
At 3:49 am, Senate Bill 20-100 to Repeal the Death Penalty passed. We fought the good fight, but time and time again, Democrats refused our push to give the people a say. #coleg
— CO House Republicans (@COHouseGOP) February 25, 2020
Co-sponsors of SB20-100, Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat representing Denver, and Sen. Jack Tate, a Republican representing Centennial, are calling for capital punishment to be abolished in our state. The state Senate passed the repeal on Jan. 31.
“It is more determinative in the state of Colorado the color of your skin, where you were charged, the quality of your attorney, your socioeconomic status is more determinative as to whether or not you will be sentenced to the death penalty or not,” Gonzales told CBS4.
If the bill makes it to his desk, Governor Jared Polis has said that he will sign it and commute the sentences of the three people currently on Colorado’s death row. Nathan Dunlap was sentenced to death in the 1993 killings of eight Aurora Chuck-E-Cheese employees who were closing up shop for the night. Robbie Ray was convicted of orchestrating the killings of two people set to testify against him in a shooting. Sir Mario Owens was sentenced to death in that same case. The next year, he was convicted of killing witnesses in the same Ray case.
The last person executed under the death penalty, Gary Davis, was in 1997. Davis was a convicted murderer and rapist executed at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City. He is the only person to date to have been subject to the death penalty in Colorado since its reinstatement in 1977.