Jury selection begins for prisoner Edward Montour in murder of corrections officer Eric Autobee

DENVER - Twelve years after a Colorado corrections officer was beaten to death, the suspect is going on trial.

Officer Eric Autobee was clubbed to death with a heavy ladle in the kitchen of the Limon Correctional Facility in 2002.

According to the Denver Post, the suspect, prisoner Edward Montour was already serving a life sentence for killing his infant daughter when he was accused of killing Autobee.

Montour, acting as his own attorney, pleaded guilty in 2003 to killing Autobee and a judge sentenced him to death.

However, in 2007, the Colorado Supreme Court struck down the death sentence, but not the plea, noting that the U.S. Supreme court had earlier ruled that a defendant has a constitutional right to have a jury, rather than a judge, decide the sentence in death penalty cases.

In April of last year, a Douglas County District Court judge allowed Montour to withdraw his original plea, sending the case back to trial.

The judge, Richard B. Caschette, noted that when the defendant pleaded guilty he was not represented by a defense attorney and he had a "documented history of mental illness."

Montour's new defense attorney, David Lane, said his client has offered to accept a sentence of life without any possibility of parole and "live in a super-max solitary confinement cell for the rest of his life."

However, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler rejected the life-sentence deal and is instead pursuing the death penalty against Montour.

"When a man already serving a life sentence for murder kills a prison guard, a 'new' life sentence defies justice, common sense, and makes the taking of Eric Autobee’s life a 'freebie,'" Brauchler said.

Print this article Back to Top