Families of murder victims rally against death penalty
DENVER — The family of three murder victims spent their day protesting someone you wouldn’t expect.
They’re standing against the Eighteen Judicial District Attorney—and his decision to pursue the death penalty against the killer of a Limon prison guard 11 years ago.
Jury selection is underway in the retrial of former death-row inmate, Edward Montour, in Douglas County.
The Colorado Supreme Court threw out his death sentence in 20007 because a judge imposed it—instead of a jury.
Then, last year, his lawyers got his guilty plea tossed out too.
D.A. George Brauchler thinks Montour should still be put to death—but not the father of Montour’s victim, 23-year-old Eric Autobee.
Bob Autobee is joined by families of other murder victims protesting outside the courthouse Wednesday.
“An eye for an eye leaves us all blind,” says Erin McNally-Nakamura, the cousin of murder victim Colleen O’Connor.
They share a horrific connection–each of their loved ones suffered violent deaths.
“After crying every day for 10 years I had to do something,” says Autobee.
They also share the same view on the death penalty.
“It’s not going to solve any problem. It’s not going to help with my grief. I am not going to miss my cousin any less,” says McNally-Nakamura, whose 17-year-old cousin was killed by Nathan Dunlap 20 years ago.
“I know she wouldn’t want him killed,” says Tim Ricard, widower of a slain corrections officer in 2012. He says Mary Ricard wouldn’t want her killer, Miguel Alonso Contreras-Perez executed.
“We’re trying to get a message to the D.A. Brauchler,” says Autobee.
They all stand in support of Autobee, whose son Eric, was bludgeoned to death as a prison guard in Limon in 2002.
“The fact that they want to kill somebody in his name is a dishonor to my son because my son was not about death. He was about life,” says Autobee about
Brauchler wants to execute Montour—a decision Autobee initially agreed with. But now, he wants an end without violence.
“What would my son want me to do? Then it dawned on me, He wouldn’t want me to be upset, and have hate, and carry this the rest of my life. He would want me to forgive,” says Autobee.
And Autobee did just that.
“It’s a time for forgiving. It’s a time to move on,” Autobee tells Montour in a videotaped restorative justice meeting in December.
Autobee forgave Montour—and it brought the convicted killer to tears. Montour had already been serving a life sentence for killing his infant daughter.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain I caused you for killing your son,” he told Autobee.
So they stand in silence. Their signs speak louder than words.
Their hope is they can right what they feel is wrong.
“I know this is what he would want me to do and I know he’s happy that I am happy,” says Autobee about his son.
Autobee says this case is about more than the death penalty.
He feels the Department of Corrections is a broken system. And the money the state will spend on this death penalty case—he estimates at $15-million –could be spent toward improving prison security.