BILL SUMMARY for HB09-1274
SENATE COMMITTEE ON STATE, VETERANS & MILITARY AFFAIRS
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Moved that House Bill 09-1274 be referred to the C||PASS|
Senator Williams, Chair, called the meeting to order.
03:59 PM -- House Bill 09-1274
Senator Carroll, prime sponsor, presented House Bill 09-1274, concerning capital crimes. She said that the bill will not affect current sentences of prisoners. She commented on unsolved murders in the state and said that the rate of solving the homicides has declined over time. She commented on jurisdictions that have eliminated the death penalty in the United States. She said that she sees a public safety benefit in redirecting funds to efforts to apprehend criminals.
The following persons testified in regard to House Bill 09-1274:
04:11 PM -- Karen Steinhauser, Denver, supported House Bill 09-1274 and commented on the deterrent effect of a lifetime prison sentence.
04:18 PM -- Linda Gruno, representing the Colorado Cold Case Task Force, supported the bill and commented on the murder of her sister. She said that the use of resources to solve cold cases is more important than pursuing the rarely imposed death penalty.
04:21 PM -- Gail LaSuer, Colorado Springs, representing herself, commented on the death of her daughter and supported the bill. She said that public safety will be best served by redirecting funding to the solving of cold cases.
04:25 PM -- Bud Welch, Oklahoma City, representing himself, commented on the death of his daughter. He supported the bill and said that the death penalty for a convicted killer does not bring healing to families of victims. He said that the death penalty serves no purpose.
04:29 PM -- Michael Radelet, Boulder, representing himself, commented on his research regarding the death penalty in Colorado. He said that there is no evidence that the death penalty is a stronger deterrent to crime than life imprisonment. He said that it is unethical to use the death penalty as a threat in gaining a plea bargain. He added that certainty of punishment is a more significant deterrent than severity of punishment. He distributed a copy of his remarks to the committee (Attachment A).
04:43 PM -- Deacon Steven Vallero, representing the Colorado Catholic Conference, stated the opposition of his organization to the death penalty. He said that the death penalty is unnecessary to protect communities.
04:49 PM -- Ron McAndrew, Dunnellon, Florida, representing himself, said that families of victims do not get any relief from the death penalty. He commented on the trauma caused to persons who carry out the death penalty.
04:54 PM -- Randy Steidl, representing Witness to Innocence, supported House Bill 09-1274. He said that he was wrongly convicted of murder in the past. He said that there are many mistakes made in murder convictions. He added that the taking of an innocent person's life cannot be undone.
04:58 PM -- Stephanie Cummins, Denver, representing herself, commented on the murder of three members of her family. She supported the bill and said that she is against the death penalty.
05:01 PM -- Richard Bloch, Denver, representing himself, supported House Bill 09-1274, and said that he has been a prosecutor for 20 years. He said that the prosecution of death penalty cases takes much time and resources from law enforcement officials.
05:05 PM -- Father Bill Cannady, representing the Diocese of Colorado Springs, supported the bill and said that there is no need for the death penalty in Colorado.
05:08 PM -- Tom Hammond, representing the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, commented on the ethics of the use of the death penalty to secure a plea of life imprisonment.
05:11 PM -- Lindy Frolich, representing the Alternate Defense Counsel, commented on the expense of death penalty cases.
05:16 PM -- Tamra Brady, representing the Denver Public Defenders Office, commented on the cost of prosecuting death penalty cases. She commented on aggravating factors in death penalty cases.
05:20 PM -- Tina Terry, Colorado Springs, representing herself, commented on the murder of her family members. She commented further on time that her father spent in prison.
05:24 PM -- Daniel Romero, representing Hunger for Justice, supported House Bill 09-1274. He suggested that the committee examine the morality of the death penalty. He said that punishment should not prevent the opportunity for redemption. He cited a study of opinions of Colorado residents regarding the death penalty.
05:32 PM -- Lisa Cisneros, representing Coloradans Against the Death Penalty, supported the bill. She said that the penalty is cumbersome, and that the use of capital punishment is on the decline in the United States. She distributed a copy of her remarks to the committee (Attachment B).
05:36 PM -- Diane Riechert, Centennial, representing herself, commented on the murder of her friend, and on polling on the question of the death penalty.
05:39 PM -- Kathy Hazouri, representing the ACLU of Colorado, said that the ACLU opposes the death penalty. She said that keeping a person in jail for life is a harsher punishment than the death penalty. She commented on persons convicted of murder who have been exonerated.
05:47 PM -- Howard Morton, representing Families of Homicide Victims, commented on the murder of his son. He said that the bill will provide funding for a state "cold case team" at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. He commented on prior legislation addressing the topic.
05:54 PM -- Lisa Cappeli, Littleton, representing herself, said that she solved her mother's murder. She commented on how an admission of guilt in the crime was obtained.
05:57 PM -- Debbra Meyer, Colorado Springs, representing herself, supported House Bill 09-1274. She commented on the murder of her family member and said that funding resulting from the bill will be used to solve cases.
06:00 PM -- Jacquelyn Espinoza, Colorado Springs, representing herself, said that she would like to see the murder of her brother solved.
06:04 PM -- John Suthers, Attorney General, commented on his career. He opposed the bill and said that Colorado has used the death penalty sparingly. He said that Colorado should retain the death penalty and that life imprisonment is not an adequate societal response to some crimes. He said that the death penalty is a deterrent to prisoners who might attempt to murder a correctional officer. He commented on Colorado's elimination of the death penalty in 1897 and its later reinstatement. He suggested that the General Assembly refer the measure to Colorado voters.
06:09 PM -- Joe Cannata, representing Voices of Victims, opposed the bill. He read a letter in support of the death penalty and said that the death penalty is the only deterrent for prisoners serving a life sentence. He commented on the murder of his daughter. He said that the person who killed his daughter is a sociopath, and that life imprisonment is not a deterrent to such persons.
06:18 PM -- Tom Raynes, Deputy Attorney General, said that cost savings will not result from the bill. He commented on the potential for wrongful execution and said that this has not happened in Colorado. He said that death penalty cases should be exhaustive, and thus will be expensive. He said that Colorado is a model for the use of the death penalty. He suggested that additional officer training would help to reduce unsolved cases. He said that collection of DNA at arrest is a very effective means of solving cold cases.
06:22 PM -- Kathy Sasak, representing the Colorado Department of Public Safety, commented on the activities of the Colorado Cold Case Task Force. She commented further on cold cases that have been solved in Colorado.
06:27 PM -- Ron Sloan, representing the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), opposed the bill, and said that the bill will not provide adequate funding for addressing cold cases. He commented on the development of the CBI cold case team.
06:36 PM -- Jeanne Smith, representing the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, commented on her career and her service on the Witness Protection Board. She commented on aggravating factors in death penalty cases. She said that cold cases need to be solved, but that this bill is not the way to do it.
06:40 PM -- Scott Storey, representing the Colorado District Attorneys Council, said that it is tragic that the bill has split the victim's community in Colorado and that the bill creates false hopes on the part of the families of murder victims. He said that there is no nexus between abolishing the death penalty and providing funding for cold cases. He added that throwing money at cold case investigation will not necessarily solve the cases. He said that the proposal should be referred to the voters and that he is offended by the idea that a prosecutor would use the death penalty as a bargaining tool in a plea bargain. He said that the district attorneys "pursue justice, not vengeance."
06:53 PM -- Rick Skurla, Denver, representing himself, opposed the bill, and commented on potential for funding to be made available under the bill. He suggested that the measure be referred to the voters.
06:57 PM -- Eva Wilson, Golden, representing herself, commented on her career, and on murder cases she has encountered as a prosecutor. She said that some murderers have no remorse, and that prosecutors do not use the death penalty as a bargaining tool. She opposed the bill.
07:01 PM -- Melissa Petrucelli, Denver, representing herself, commented on the murders of her family members. She said that the pain of families of homicide victims never ends. She said that more funding may not result in the solving of more cold cases, and that the bill pits two different groups of victims against each other. She said that the measure should be referred to the voters of the state.
07:06 PM -- Bonny Lee Michaelson, Aurora, representing herself, commented on the Nathan Dunlap murder case. She distributed a copy of her remarks to the committee (Attachment C).
07:11 PM -- Mark Randall, representing the Colorado District Attorneys Council, commented on his career as a prosecutor. He said that there are crimes of such a deep level of depravity and evil that the death penalty is appropriate. He reiterated that the death penalty is needed as a deterrent against murders by inmates. He asked that the death penalty be retained in Colorado. He said that Colorado has very high standards that must be met before the death penalty may be imposed.
|TIME: || 08:11:23 PM|
|MOTION:||Moved that House Bill 09-1274 be referred to the Committee on Appropriations. The motion passed on a 3-2-0 roll call vote.|
Final YES: 3 NO: 2 EXC: 0 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
The committee meeting adjourned.