"Judge rules slain officer's dad cannot ask jury to spare Montour," is the Denver Post report by Jordan Steffen.
A Douglas County judge's ruling on Wednesday bars the father of a slain corrections officer from telling a jury he doesn't want his son's killer executed.
More than 11 years after Edward Montour beat Eric Autobee to death, the Autobee family wants to spare Montour from the death penalty. On Feb. 13, Bob Autobee asked District Court County Judge Richard Caschette to allow him to ask the jury not to sentence Montour to death if he is convicted.
Andrew Cohen provides analysis in, "How a Colorado Judge Just Blocked the Victims' Right Movement," at the Atlantic. Here's the beginning:
Late Wednesday, a trial judge in Colorado, a former prosecutor, issued a ruling that precludes the parents of a murder victim from telling jurors of their profound opposition to the imposition of a death sentence against the man who killed their son. The "appropriate audience" for the parents' complaints about the prosecution's use of "their son's name in the pursuit of the death penalty," the judge wrote in a footnote, is the prosecutor, who, of course, already has decided that the defendant should be put to death if found guilty.
Here is a link to the ruling by a district court judge that blocks Bob and Lola Autobee from providing jurors with the "victim impact" testimony they wish to provide on behalf of Edward Montour, the man who killed their son, Eric, who was a corrections officer. "The Court is unaware of any binding statutes or case law that would allow" the trial testimony that the Autobees seek, the judge ruled, although he will permit the family to testify as "mitigation witnesses." Specifically, the judge ruled that: "The Autobees may testify about the emotional impact of a death sentence or a life sentence... However, the Autobees will not be allowed to testify about what sentence the jury should impose."
How exactly this will play out in court—with the judge, prosecutor, and defense attorneys parsing what words the Autobees may use—is today impossible to predict. Can the Autobees tell jurors, for example, that a "death sentence" against Montour would have a terrible emotional impact upon them? Can they tell jurors that a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Montour would have made their son happy? By seeking to endorse a compromise here, the judge may have ended up with more trouble than he knows.
There are other elements to the case today. The Post also reports, "Judge to rule if death penalty case against Montour will be postponed," by Steffen.
Less than a week before opening arguments are scheduled to begin in the death penalty case against an inmate who beat a corrections officer to death, prosecutors are asking the judge to eliminate several defense witnesses or postpone the trial.
More than 11 years after Edward Montour killed 23-year-old Eric Autobee, jury selection in his second trial began on Jan. 6. During jury selection, defense attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to hear new evidence they say proves Montour was wrongfully convicted in 1998 of killing his 11-week-old daughter, Taylor.
On Thursday, Douglas County District Court Judge Richard Caschette will hear arguments about Montour's 1998 conviction, whether more than a dozen defense witnesses will be allowed to speak at trial and if the trial will be postponed.
Westword posts, "Edward Montour death penalty trial: Homicide ruling changed in infant death," by Alan Prendergast.
In an unprecedented move, the El Paso County Coroner's Office has amended the death certificate in the 1997 death of a twelve-week-old infant, changing the cause of death from "homicide" to "undetermined" -- dealing yet another blow to prosecution efforts to seek the death penalty for the infant's father, Edward Montour Jr., for the murder of a corrections officer at the Limon prison in 2002. And the man who sent Montour to prison for life for killing his daughter now says that new evidence has convinced him that the death could have been accidental.
There's little doubt surrounding the crime for which Montour is now facing trial: his fatal attack on corrections officer Eric Autobee twelve years ago. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, but the Colorado Supreme Court threw out his death sentence in 2007 because it hadn't been imposed by a jury. The prosecution has since been mired in procedural delays, internal conflicts, and a highly public battle with Autobee's father, Bob, who opposes the death penalty and wants to address the jury in the case about why he doesn't think his son's killer should be executed.
Prosecutors hoped to use the fact that Montour was already serving life for a prior homicide as an aggravating factor in his current trial. But earlier this month, Montour's defense team filed a motion that he was wrongfully convicted of beating his daughter Taylor to death and shouldn't have been in prison in the first place.
Earlier coverage of this Colorado case begins at the link.