DENVER — It didn’t take long for critics of the death penalty to bring up race after James Holmes was sentenced Friday to life in prison instead of death for the deadly Aurora, Colorado, theater rampage.
Democratic state Rep. Jovan Melton noted that the three men on Colorado’s death row are black, while Holmes is white.
“Today’s verdict proves again that the Death Penalty is arbitrary. Only people on Death row in CO are Black. It has no place in CO,” tweeted Mr. Melton, who has sponsored legislation to end the death penalty.
Added Eric Hamilton of Emerson Hamilton Consulting, “The #deathpenalty in Colorado needs to be abolished! 3 minorities on #deathrow and combined they killed less than #JamesHolmes.”
Left unsaid was that two of the three men are awaiting death sentences for black-on-black murders.
Sir Mario Owens and Robert Ray were convicted in the 2005 killings of Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe, who were shot in their car at an intersection.
Marshall-Fields, who had graduated from Colorado State University two weeks earlier, had planned to testify against Ray in a murder trial stemming from a parking altercation at a party in Aurora.
Colorado’s debate on the death penalty has not divided along racial lines in large part because of Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields, Marshall-Fields’ mother, who has been a strong voice in favor of the capital punishment.
“Our system leaves the ultimate decision of life/death to 12 citizens. Jury has spoken: Holmes gets life. Let the healing begin,” Ms. Fields tweeted Friday.
In 2013, she criticized Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper when he gave a “temporary reprieve” to the third man on death row, Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap.
Holmes, 27, was sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole after one juror reportedly refused to give him the death penalty based on his history of mental illness.
Holmes was convicted in the deaths of 12 people at the Aurora Century 16 during the July 2012 midnight premier of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
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