Gov. Hickenlooper says he will not pardon Nathan Dunlap

“We are not considering Nathan Dunlap,” the governor said Monday. “Not on my list.”
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Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at a press conference on the possible repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, Sept. 1, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday he has no plans to consider convicted killer Nathan Dunlap's efforts to commute his death sentence.

Hickenlooper briefly addressed the case during a news conference in which he announced pardons for 22 individuals he said had served their time, rebuilt their lives and are contributing to their communities.

Dunlap was sentenced to die in 1996 for the ambush slayings of four people inside an Aurora restaurant. In 2013, Hickenlooper indefinitely delayed Dunlap's execution, saying he had doubts about the fairness of Colorado's death penalty.

He stopped short of converting Dunlap's death sentence to life in prison and said he would leave it to his successor to address the case. The term-limited governor is set to leave office in January 2019.

"We are not considering Nathan Dunlap," the governor said Monday. "Not on my list."

The Denver Post has reported that Dunlap's attorneys want to present new evidence about the effect of Dunlap's traumatic childhood on his decision-making.

Madeline Cohen, an attorney who represents Dunlap, said she had no formal comment on Monday.

Hickenlooper said he and his administration plan to complete reviews of roughly 475 clemency petitions. Most of those decisions released Monday concern crimes ranging from theft to marijuana sales convictions.

Of the decisions released Monday, Hickenlooper said each case had been reviewed exhaustively. Victims, victim advocates, judges and prosecutors were consulted. Many cases date back decades, and convictions barred many years later from getting jobs or finding places to live, the governor said.

"Some of these individuals have gone above and beyond for their communities and for themselves," he said, adding, "This decision in no way lessens the impact their crimes had on others."

The clemency decisions include cases involving theft and non-violent drug offenses, such as possession of marijuana, dating to the 1990s. One felony grand larceny case dates to 1967.

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