Will Colorado Abolish the Death Penalty?

April 22 2009, 9:19 AM

vigil-edwardThe vote on whether to keep alive efforts to abolish the death penalty in Colorado came down to state Representative Edward Vigil yesterday, a Democrat from Fort Garland, who hesitated for several seconds as the legislators around him whispered. Finally, he pushed a green button, casting the decisive vote that sent House Bill 1274 to the Senate, according to The Denver Post. As the Pueblo Chieftain notes, the 33-32 decision was "the most dramatic vote that anyone in the Colorado House can remember." The bill seeks to eliminate the death penalty and use the savings to fund a unit in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to work on the state's roughly 1,000 unsolved murders. Republicans opposed the bill for myriad reasons, including the belief that it would remove a deterrent to homicide. But one Republican, Don Marostica of Loveland, voted for the bill, explaining that he is "pro-life" and saying, "consequently I believe in the sanctity of all human life, and I mean all." If the bill ends up on Governor Bill Ritter's desk, he will face a difficult decision, especially because Attorney General John Suthers is an opponent, writes Westword. Ritter's role in determining the fate of the current policy was explored in-depth last fall in "The Politics of Killing" by 5280's Patrick Doyle and Natasha Gardner.

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