Hunter's Unfinished Crusade

February 2005

Hunter Thompson's death preceded a crusade that was very important to him -- the reversal of Lisl Auman's felony murder conviction and life sentence. The Colorado Supreme Court has the case under advisement and could issue a ruling at any time. Lisl was already in police custody at the time of the crime and yet she serves a lifetime prison term. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers , at Hunter's urging, filed an amicus brief in her case. In at nutshell, Lisl Auman met Matthaeus Jaehnig just that morning. By the end of the day, both he and a police officer were dead -- and her life was over. Lisl's case is unique in that she was convicted and sentenced for a murder she had no intention or desire to commit. The "felony murder" rule under which she was convicted is a relic from 12th century British law. It allows people to be held responsible for "unintended deaths that occurred in the course of other serious crimes."

There are six crimes in Colorado that can result in felony murder charges: arson, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, sexual assault, and escape. Since Lisl was found guilty of second-degree burglary, she was also convicted of murder. Even though she was handcuffed and in police custody and did not know Jahenig was going to kill the officer. Hunter Thompson took up Lisl's cause during her first appeal, writing about it often in his ESPN column, attending a rally in Denver and skewering the police and prosecution in a June, 2004 Vanity Fair article. You can read an interview with Lisl here. A timeline of the crime is here. A descriptive article about Lisl's case is here. Lisl Auman is now 25 years old. She has no prior criminal record. Matthaeus Jaehnig was a skinhead rascist with a long record. She had been handcuffed for 10 minutes in the back of the police car when Jaehnig unexpectedly shot the officer. Will the Colorado Supreme Court rule Lisl Auman must spend the rest of her life in prison, without the possibility of parole? Or will Lisl be freed and Hunter granted a posthumous cause for celebration?