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Colorado House Approves Death Penalty Repeal, Bill Sent To Governor's Desk

DENVER (CBS4) - The Colorado House of Representatives has voted to approve the proposed repeal of Colorado's death penalty. The measure will now go to Gov. Jared Polis' desk for his signature.

The measure passed the roll call vote 38 to 27.

colorado prison generic
(credit: CBS)

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.

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 Aurora killings of four 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.

Rep. Tom Sullivan, who lost his son in the Aurora Theater shooting, vows to keep fighting for the death penalty to stay.

"I'm not going to stop working for this and we will see where we go from here."

Rep. Jeni Arndt sponsored the bill.

"I reached out to Tom and I went to him and approached him and I respect his pain and reticence."

Death Penalty Table
Colorado's death chamber (credit: CBS)

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.

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