The parents of Eric Autobee, the prison guard killed 11 years ago today at the Limon Correctional Facility, have written an open letter to Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler pleading with him to stop pursuing the death penalty for their son’s killer, Edward Montour.
They wrote that they would get “no closure” nor “emotional security” from Montour’s death. They said they have forgiven him and the drive to have him executed is for them a source of suffering. “Enough is enough,” they wrote.
“We believe the death penalty for Mr. Montour is a colossal mistake. We believe the death penalty is wrong for both religious and moral reasons… However our request to you is based on more than general disagreement with the death penalty. Mr Montour has become a scapegoat for the continuing failures of the Colorado Department of Corrections to both properly medicate Mr. Montour for his well-known mental health disabilities and to create a safe environment for the inmates and guards… Unfortunately, nothing has changed since the death of our son.”
The letter is already being passed around in circles beyond attorneys’ offices and human rights listservs, adding fuel to a larger debate over capital punishment that has grown hot this year in Colorado.
A bill that would have abolished the death penalty in the state was introduced and then quashed at the capitol in the spring and Governor John Hickenlooper in May granted a reprieve to high-profile inmate Nathan Dunlap, one of three men on death row at the time in the state. Dunlap had exhausted appeals and was scheduled to be executed in August.
Edward Montour was already serving a life sentence for killing his daughter when in 2002 he attacked Autobee with a prison-kitchen utensil. In 2007, the state Supreme Court threw out the death sentence Montour received after pleading guilty to the murder. The majority justices argued that the sentence was not imposed by a jury and so was unlawful. District attorneys have been pursuing the case ever since, seeking to appeal that decision.