AURORA, Colo. - The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of convicted killer Nathan Dunlap, clearing the way for an execution date to be set for the Colorado inmate.
Dunlap was a 19-year-old former employee when he walked into a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora in 1993 at closing time and shot five people in the head, before taking $1,500 from a safe. Three teenagers and a mother of two died. (Read more about the victims below.) One person survived the shooting.
Dunlap had recently been fired from the restaurant.
According to the arrest affidavit, Dunlap told a friend he "wanted to get even with the General Manager" and said "he was going to shoot the General Manager."
Last year, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Dunlap's arguments that his attorney erred in not presenting evidence of mental illness during the sentencing phase.
The panel found that the decision by Dunlap's attorney was meant to prevent other evidence from being presented in court, including that Dunlap bragged about the July 1993 slayings while in custody.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court sent out of list of pending cases. Dunlap's case was listed under "certiorari denied." That means the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The Tech Law Journal's website says the Supreme Court receives hundreds of cases each year and denies all but about one hundred.
One of Dunlap's attorneys, Phil Cherner, said it would be "unconscionable" for the state to carry out the death sentence against him "given what we know about the unfair and disproportionate use of capital punishment in Colorado." He said Dunlap should spend the rest of his life in prison without parole.
Family members of the victims in the Chuck E. Cheese shooting have told 7NEWS for years that they don't understand why this process has taken so long.
"Don't get me wrong, I am not a violent type guy, I just think the public deserves justice," said Bob Cowell, murder victim Sylvia Cowell's father in 2007.
Since Colorado reinstituted the death penalty in 1976, only one person has been executed. Gary Lee Davis was executed in 1997.
Dunlap is one of three men on death row in Colorado. The others are Sir Mario Owens and Robery Ray. They were convicted and sentenced to death for their roles in the murders of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe.
The death sentences of at least six other death-row inmates have been thrown out since Dunlap was sentenced, according to the Associated Press.
Chuck E. Cheese victims remembered
The four people who died in that Aurora restaurant during the holidays in 1993 left behind grieving family and friends.
Sylvia Crowell had just graduated from Gateway High School. She got a job at Chuck E. Cheese to help pay for an upcoming church mission and her school expenses. She was going to go to Metro State where she planned to major in psychology.
"She wanted to go and give two years to the Lord for all that she has been blessed with in her life, and she did feel blessed," her family said.
17-year-old Colleen O'Conner was a senior at Eaglecrest High School when she died.
"I think she was a wonderful human being," friends said.
17-year-old Benjamin Grant was a student at Smoky Hill High School. Grant was remembered as a good kid with lots of friends. He was on the school's wrestling team.
Margaret Kohlberg was new to Colorado and to the Chuck E. Cheese company when she was killed. She had just moved to Parker and had taken over as manager of the restaurant. Other employees said even though she was new, Margaret cared about them as though they were her own children.
The lone survivor was 20-year-old Bobby Stephens. He remembered running for his life when he ran out of the restaurant to get help. Stephens had taken the job at the restaurant to make extra money for his wife and seven-month-old son. His wife also worked at the restaurant, but was not working on the night of the shooting.