Dunlap

Colorado lawmakers bump into death-row inmate Nathan Dunlap


August 17, 2015

In June, four Colorado legislators got face-to-face with death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, the Chuck E. Cheese killer whose execution was postponed last October by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the dismay of many pro-death-penalty Coloradans.

Like they do most summers, these members of the Capital Development Committee were touring state colleges, universities and other facilities to find out how taxpayers’ dollars are being spent and to consider future funding requests.

The June 8-10 tour took the committee to northeastern Colorado, to tour the Sterling Correctional Facility, which houses the state’s three death row inmates.

Legislators on the Sterling visit were Reps. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland and J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio; and Sens. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs and Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.

According to the legislators, the accidental encounter was uneventful and Dunlap was “very polite.”

Baumgardner said Dunlap came out of an elevator with a guard and had to walk through the group of mostly pro-death-penalty lawmakers because the space was so tight.

The inmate was held by the arm by the guard and was in full chains and shackles, according to Vigil.

“We were surprised,” Baumgardner said, and he believed Dunlap was as well.

Vigil described the situation as “surreal. It took me a second to recognize him,” he said.

“It’s a pretty nice facility,” Baumgardner said of the prison. There are things that need to be looked at, but that’s true for all of the state’s prisons, he added.

As to how meeting Dunlap impacted their opinions about the death penalty, the encounter didn’t change any minds, according to the legislators.

 

Idaho high court considers death penalty reviews. Case of Timothy Dunlap


November 8, 2012 http://www.seattlepi.com

OISE, Idaho  — The Idaho Supreme Court is deciding just how much of each death penalty case they must consider under Idaho’s mandatory review law, and the ruling could dramatically change the landscape of capital punishment in Idaho.

The issues arose in the case of Timothy Dunlap, who is sentenced to death in both Idaho and Ohio for two murders committed during a 10-day span in 1991.

Dunlap was arrested in Idaho after prosecutors said he used a sawed-off shotgun to kill 25-year-old bank teller Tonya Crane during a robbery in Soda Springs. After his arrest, police said he confessed to murdering his girlfriend, Belinda Bolanos, with a crossbow and dumping her body along the Ohio River 10 days before Crane’s murder.

Dunlap was convicted in Ohio and sentenced to death there for Bolanos‘ murder; but because he was convicted in Idaho first, Idaho is first in line for his execution.

It’s not uncommon for death row inmates to appeal multiple issues before multiple courts, all at the same time. Now 44, Dunlap is no exception, and his appeal before the Idaho Supreme Court includes more than 50 different issues.

The decision from the Idaho Supreme Court on what must be reviewed could dramatically limit the types of appeals that death row defendants can bring.

The Idaho Legislature created the mandatory review law in 1977, requiring the Idaho Supreme Court to review every death sentence whether the defendant wants them to or not.

The law was designed to do two things: First, meet federal requirements that the death penalty be imposed only on a narrow group of criminals whose crimes were worthy of such a severe sanction; and second, speed up the appeals process by ensuring there were no problems with the way the death penalty was imposed.

But Idaho Deputy Attorney General LaMont Anderson says the law has actually slowed death row cases because the Idaho Supreme Court has never defined the scope of the mandatory review.

That means that once the mandatory review is done, the federal appeals court assumes the Idaho Supreme Court justices have considered all the sentencing issues in a case, even if a particular issue was never mentioned before the lower court. Many types of appeals can’t be brought before the federal courts until they’ve been considered by a state court, but since the federal courts have interpreted Idaho’s mandatory review law as all-encompassing, virtually no sentencing appeal is off limits, Anderson contends.

But Shannon Romero, Dunlap’s defense attorney with the state’s appellate public defender’s office, maintains that the Idaho Supreme Court has implemented the mandatory review rule correctly. The Idaho Supreme Court has an obligation to make sure that the death penalty is being carried out in a way that’s constitutional, and that means considering everything, Romero contends.

The Idaho Attorney General’s office wants to treat death penalty cases like any other criminal case, and that’s just not right, she told the court.

The U.S. Supreme Court “has long recognized that death is different from every form of punishment,” Romero wrote in a brief to the court, in large part because it is totally irrevocable.

The justices took the matter under advisement and didn’t say when they would issue a decision