COLORADO (USA): FATHER OF SLAIN CORRECTIONS OFFICER PROTESTS DEATH PENALTY AT TRIAL
January 6, 2014: Edward Montour, Native American/Hispanic, is charged with murdering corrections officer Eric Autobee in October 2002 at the Limon Correctional Facility. At the time he was serving a life prison sentence for the March 31, 1997 beating to death of his 11-week-old daughter. He pleaded guilty to the killing of Autobee in 2003 and a judge sentenced him to death on Feb. 27, 2003. The Colorado Supreme Court, however, reversed that ruling on April 24, 2007 and the case was put on hold until April, when a Douglas County judge allowed Montour to withdraw his original plea, sending the case to a retrial. Montour has now pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Now the victim's father, Bob Autobee, has been greeting the hundreds of potential jurors in the case. Bob Autobee also carried a photo of his son, with a message to prosecutors that it is wrong to seek death against Moutour. "G. Brauchler, Killing Montour will not fix the mess we call the Colorado DOC, but the money you save by not killing him could help other officers and inmates from being killed."
"My son wouldn't want the death penalty," Bob Autobee told the shivering crowd. "Do you believe in the death penalty? You're going to have to decide."
Autobee met Montour in December, saying after carrying hate for a decade he needed to forgive. "So after 10 years it finally it dawned on me that to make my son happy I had to get out from under this weight that was dragging me down," Autobee said.
In April, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler announced he would seek the death penalty against Montour, who has plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Autobee has asked Brauchler to reconsider his decision.
Brauchler considered Autobee's feelings and discussed his decision with the Autobee family several times, Lisa Pinto, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said in a statement. "In regard to Mr. Autobee's protest at the Douglas County courthouse today, we believe that it is essential to our system of justice that jurors base their decisions on the evidence they hear in court during a trial," Pinto said. "We greatly respect the right to free speech, but we are concerned about the integrity of the criminal justice process."
Jury selection in the case is expected to take as long as two months. Opening arguments will likely begin in March. Up to 600 potential jurors were called to the courthouse and hundreds more will arrive in the next couple of weeks. Autobee says he told the district attorney he was not in favor of the death penalty. He was also involved in hearings about abolishing the state's death penalty last year. (Source: CBS News, Associated Press, Denver Post, Hands off Cain, January 6, 2014)