In addition to last night's nine-hour long hearing, there is also breaking news from Colorado this morning. The Denver Post reports, "Tom Clements, executive director of Colorado prisons, killed in his home in Monument." As was the case with the Aurora movie theater shootings, it's an event that may have an impact on the repeal debate.
"After 9 hours of testimony, Colorado House panel delays death penalty vote," is Kurtis Lee's report for the Denver Post.
Whether the state of Colorado should be able to sentence people to die came to the forefront Tuesday afternoon as several dozen people crammed into a House committee room for more than nine hours of emotional testimony on a bill to repeal the death penalty.
At the end of the night, the proposal was laid over until later in the session and no vote was taken.
The measure, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Claire Levy of Boulder and Jovan Melton of Aurora, would repeal capital punishment in Colorado for offenses committed after July 1. House Bill 1264 is also co-sponsored by Rep.Kevin Priola, a Republican from Henderson.
Lawmakers attempted to repeal the death penalty in 2009, but the attempt failed by a single vote.
House Bill 1264 would not impact the three men already on Colorado's death row, or someone charged with a crime committed before the proposal became law. If passed, the death penalty would no longer be an option for prosecutors, only life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The last person the state put to death was Gary Davis in 1997.
The AP coverage is, "Colorado Legislature hears testimony on death penalty repeal measure," by Ivan Moreno. It's via the Boulder Daily Camera.
A man urging Colorado lawmakers to abolish capital punishment lifted a container holding some of his son's ashes Tuesday and said the death penalty would not bring his son justice.
"My son's life was about love and life ... so please don't saddle my son's name with the death penalty," said Bob Autobee, whose son Eric was a corrections officer who was beaten to death in 2002 by an inmate.
Lawmakers heard hours of emotional testimony on the proposal, which was up for a first vote Tuesday evening in the House Judiciary Committee. Some argued the sentence is unfair and ineffective, while others called it a just punishment.
Moments after Autobee spoke, Maisha Fields-Pollard, whose mother serves in the Colorado Legislature, told lawmakers about her brother Javad Marshall-Fields, who was gunned down along with his fiancée to prevent him from testifying at a murder trial.
"Today I sit before you asking you to not put the justice of my brother at risk," Fields-Pollard said.
KUNC-FM posts, "Long Debate Punctuates First Committee Hearing On Death Penalty Repeal," by Bente Birkeland.
The last time Democrats tried to eliminate the death penalty four years ago they came up one vote short. Representative Ed Vigil (D-Alamosa) was the key swing vote in the house and kept the bill alive in that chamber. He was torn because as a one-time district attorney investigator he once used the death penalty as a threat to solve a homicide, but he also thinks it’s too expensive to prosecute.
“Over the years it’s been a learning experience and you do learn you can change your opinions and feel really good about them. It’s definitely going to be a challenging debate,” he said.
"Death penalty repeal effort sparks nine hours of emotional testimony," is the KDVR-TV report by Eli Stokols. There is video at the link.
The battle over Colorado’s death penalty began in earnest Tuesday, when a measure to repeal capital punishment in the state drew nine hours of emotional testimony during the bill’s first hearing before lawmakers.
Finally, around 11 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee, at the sponsor’s request, decided to postpone a vote on House Bill 1264, which is still expected to be approved and eventually move to the full House for debate.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Denver, also told reporters the decision to put off the vote made sense because lawmakers shouldn’t be deciding such a weighty issue when they’re exhausted from such a long day of debate.
All afternoon and late into the evening, dozens of people, on both sides of the issue, told compelling personal stories, including Robert Dewey, who was exonerated of a murder charge last year after serving 18 years in prison.
“They talked about the death penalty for my case,” Dewey told the House Judiciary Committee. “If that would have happened, I’d have probably died already for a crime I didn’t do.”
Randy Steidl, who served 12 years including six on death row for a murder DNA later proved he didn’t commit, echoed Dewey’s argument that the death sentence is irreversible and also said that he found life in prison without parole to be a tougher sentence to serve than death.
“Life without parole is a far harsher sentence. It’s an appropriate sentence,” Steidl testified. “And you don’t run the risk of executing an innocent person. You can release an innocent man from prison, but you cannot release him from the grave.”
Earlier coverage of the Colorado repeal legislation begins at the link.