Letters urge governor to deny clemency for Nathan Dunlap, sentenced to death for 4 murders

DENVER - Gov. John Hickenlooper is being asked to "show courage" by denying clemency for Nathan Dunlap, sentenced to death for killing four employees of an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese during a robbery in 1993.

Letters to the governor from the Arapahoe County District Attorney and his deputy district attorney, the jury foreman on the last Colorado death penalty case from State Representative Rhonda Fields and from a former co-worker were made public Friday.  All of them argued that Nathan Dunlap deserves the death penalty for his crime because he admitted killing all four employees to eliminate witnesses in the case.

The only other inmates on Colorado's death row were also convicted of killing a witness in a criminal case, the son of Rep. Fields, who was scheduled to testify against them.

The jury foreman on the Robert Ray case, who did not want his name released, wrote Hickenlooper, telling him "Mr. Dunlap, as he stated himself, killed people because they would be witnesses. Freedom, peace and justice are all values worth more than any one of our individual lives."

The foreman called the Chuck E. Cheese murders as "Aurora's original mass shooting." He also addressed augments that racism played a part in placing Dunlap on death row.

"You must trust that your citizens are not racists or ignorant fools," the jury foreman wrote.  "Show the nation that Colorado does not tolerate cowardly acts of mass murder."

Rep. Rhonda Fields wrote the governor about her personal experience in the death penalty trials of Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens -- the two men convicted of killing her son and his fiancé. 

Fields also argued that racism did not play a part in any of the three death penalty verdicts -- all rendered in Arapahoe County.

"It was not the fault of the DA back in 1993 or the DA in 2005 that Dunlap, Ray and Owens all chose to commit their murders in Arapahoe County.  It was the nature of the murders, not their locations, that cause the death penalty decisions."

She called it "offensive" to suggest that race played a part in any of the cases.

Regarding the Ray and Owens death penalty verdicts, Fields wrote, "… the jurors believed that the killing of witnesses was the main factor that required the death penalty."   She added, "I know that Dunlap, when asked why he killed his victims, answered that it was because they were witnesses to his crime."

She concluded her letter to the governor by saying, "I think that granting clemency would send the wrong message to criminals and to witnesses."

District Attorney George Brauchler and Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Maillaro wrote a joint letter to to Hickenlooper, stating, "He (Dunlap) took the lives of four Colorado citizens and justice requires he now pays with his own."

"We ask you to take the courageous stop of not granting his request for executive clemency," the two also wrote.

"It's not John Hickenlooper putting Nathan Dunlap to death, it's the governor of the State of Colorado defending the process that has lead us here," Brauchler told 7NEWS reporter Marc Stewart.

A former Chuck E. Cheese co-worker and high school acquaintance of Nathan Dunlap also wrote Gov. Hickenlooper, urging him to not grant clemency for the condemned murderer.

The woman, who did not want to publicly identified, told Hickenlooper, "(Dunlap) was always a vindictive, evil and mean dark person." 

She said Dunlap is a "bad person, he always has been and I believe he always will be … His actions did not just happen to occur on this one horrible night, it was from the monster that he always was."

The woman relates personal interactions with Dunlap at school and at work where she said he used "intimidation and fear." 

The woman said she was scheduled to work the night of the murders but had changed her schedule in order to babysit. She said that decision saved her life.  She is now a nurse. 

-- DA's response: http://ch7ne.ws/11Z9LxB

-- Ray jury foreman and Rep. Fields responses: http://ch7ne.ws/16niHmb

-- Letter from co-worker who was supposed to work the night of the shooting: http://ch7ne.ws/10odAtF

Dunlap has been sentenced to die by lethal injection during the week of Aug. 18.  The last person executed in Colorado was Gary Lee Davis in 1997.  

Before that, the last person executed in Colorado was Luis Monge in 1967. Monge was executed in the gas chamber for murdering his wife and three children. Prior to his death, Colorado averaged one execution per year for the years the gas chamber replaced hanging in the state, which was 1934.