In 1993 Nathan Dunlap killed four employees and wounded another at a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant where he once worked. After trial, a jury of his peers sentenced him to death, in the State of Colorado where voters have voted twice in favor of the death penalty. As you might expect, Dunlap appealed the verdict and for 11 years did everything he could to have the verdict and sentence overturned. Last year he exhausted his last appeal and the death sentence was scheduled to be carried out this August.
Last week, Governor John Hickenlooper disregarded the judge's verdict, the decision of a jury of Dunlap's peers and the voters of the State of Colorado. In a sign of complete weakness and a total lack of character and leadership, Governor Hickenlooper disregarded the oath he took to uphold Colorado's Constitution and delayed Nathan Dunlap's execution "indefinitely." Instead, he called for a conversation about the death penalty in Colorado. Another conversation.
Of late, I find myself disappointed in our elected officials both in Colorado and in Washington. The incredible respect I had for Governor Hickenlooper makes this feeling of disappointment greater than most. He could have granted Dunlap clemency. I still would have been disappointed, but the matter would have been closed. Instead, Hickenlooper left the victim's families and the citizens of Colorado hanging while he convenes group after group conducting "The Conversation."
Frankly, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about the death penalty. It's the law in Colorado. Leaders must lead. Leaders must enforce the law. Hickenlooper failed to do either of these things.
I, for one, believe the punishment should meet the crime. I believe in our system of justice. I recognize mistakes are made but I wouldn't want to live under any other system of justice. I believe that after eleven years of appeals and efforts to have a verdict and sentence overturned, enough is enough. The families of the victims should be allowed closure and so should the taxpayers of the State of Colorado.
On the bright side, I was relieved to hear Governor Hickenlooper tell a reporter he was not interested in running for President. The safety of our country would be comprised by such a man acting as our Commander in Chief. How long of a conversation would we have to have following a terrorist attack or a declaration of war against the U.S.? I have to wonder what other laws might be disregarded by this man who refuses to lead and refuses to uphold the laws he took an oath to uphold.
It will be interesting to see if he's re-elected Governor of Colorado.