Member of the jury that sentenced Nathan Dunlap to death urges Governor not to grant clemency

7NEWS interviews original Dunlap juror

DENVER - In lieu of a definitive decision from Gov. John Hickenlooper, the tug-of-war over a clemency request for condemned killer Nathan Dunlap rages on.

Dunlap has been sentenced to die by lethal injection during the week of Aug. 18. He was convicted of shooting five employees -- killing four -- at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese during an after-hours robbery in 1993.

Hickenlooper could decide to grant clemency, deny it or simply ignore the request and allow the execution plans to continue without his input.

Wednesday, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office shared a message authored by an anonymous juror who was involved in sentencing Dunlap to death.

"I have lived with this for a long time," the unnamed juror wrote to the DA's office. "My feelings are if one person [the Governor] has the ability to change what a juror declares, then why do we need a jury?  The only reason why anybody should be able to overturn what a jury's verdict declares is because of fraud, cheating, or some other injustice. As for those 3 jurors who all of a sudden changed their minds, I doubt it."

"Do you still feel comfortable with your decision?” asked 7NEWS Reporter Marc Stewart in an interview with that juror.

"I do," he said.  "I feel very strong about it.  We all had to live with what we chose.  And all of us there, of the 12,  chose death for this particular person," he said.

Yet all of these years later, Dunlap's defense team is raising new questions - presenting evidence detailing his mental health.

Three jurors are now expressing reservations about their decision after Dunlap was later diagnosed as being bi-polar.

"Can you understand where they are coming from?" asked Stewart.  

"No I can't because he ruined the lives of a lot of people," he said. "He was mentally stable to do what he did and he should pay for it."

"To your colleagues who have reservations, what do you say to them?" asked Stewart.

"I feel they're talking, just to be talking," said the juror.

Just a few hours earlier, Dunlap's attorneys sent reporters several documents in support of their request for clemency. Their letters, which are all addressed to the governor, include legal arguments, a compilation of letters written to the editors of local publications and a letter from a psychologist.

The psychologist, Dr. Robert McIntyre, says District Attorney George Brauchler's previous response to the clemency request contained factual errors about a previous statement about Dunlap's mental health. The doctor had concluded that Dunlap's "brain-based impairments" were worse when he committed the crimes than they are now. Additionally, McIntyre says, Dunlap had bipolar disorder that was undiagnosed during the time of his crime and trial.

The legal opinions supplied by Dunlap's attorneys include statements from a former district attorney for Pueblo County and the executive director of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.

Dan Schoen, of the Criminal Defense Bar, reiterates McIntyre's point that Dunlap's mental illness was not diagnosed and therefore not considered by the jury at the time of his sentencing. Schoen also writes about the similarities between all of the men on death row.

His letter points out that all of the men on death row had attended Overland High School in Aurora, that all of their crimes happened in south Aurora and that all three are African-American.

"We cannot seriously believe that the three young men on Colorado's death row are 'the worst of the worst' in our state when we now have before us compelling evidence that approximately 90 percent of the charged murders in Colorado are death-penalty eligible."

Bill Thiebaut, the former Pueblo Count district attorney, reiterated many of the same points and called them "deeply disturbing."

"Any notion that you would somehow be overruling a jury by granting clemency is misguided. Your role in this process is equal to theirs. Only a governor can consider all that has happened since the trial and the larger issues of statewide application… of the death penalty," Thiebaut wrote.

Although Hickenloper hasn't yet issued a response to the clemency request, his office has shown that he has spent time considering the case. A list provided to the Associated Press shows that Dunlap has spoken to seven prosecutors, two defense attorneys, three investigators and a victim-witness assistant from the prosecutor's office. He has also spoken to victims' families.