Colorado Senate OKs death penalty repeal bill


DENVER  |  Colorado’s Senate formally approved a death penalty repeal bill Friday and sent it to the House, where prospects for passage are favorable.

Gov. Jared Polis has said he will sign a repeal bill.

The 19-13 vote came in the seventh effort in recent years to repeal the state’s death penalty. The bill would apply to offenses charged on or after July 1. It would not apply to the three men on Colorado’s death row.

SENTINEL COVER STORY: JUST US; Families of murder victims push for an end to Colorado’s death penalty

That provision was added to the bill at the conclusion of an hours-long Senate floor debate on Thursday.

Colorado State Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, confers with fellow lawmakers as they wait for delivery of at the State of State speech by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in the State Capitol Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Democratic Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora again urged her colleagues to keep capital punishment — or at least refer the question to voters. Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens have been sentenced to die for the 2005 ambush slayings of Field’s son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe.

Nathan Dunlap is on death row for murdering four people inside a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in 1993.

EDITORIAL: State legislators need to end Colorado death penalty, not voters

Colorado’s last execution came in 1997 when Gary Lee Davis died by lethal injection for the 1986 kidnapping, rape and murder of a neighbor, Virginia May.

Twenty-one U.S. states have abolished capital punishment. Other states are currently considering action, including Washington, where the state Senate on Friday approved a measure repealing the death penalty.