By Susan Graybeal | Yahoo! Contributor Network
On Tuesday, with just a listing of the case under the heading "Certiorari Denied," Nathan Dunlap, known as the Chuck E. Cheese killer, lost his death penalty appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. Dunlap is currently on death row for the murders of three teenagers and a 50-year-old mother of two in 1993. Here are the details.
According to the Denver Post , the appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court was the "last, best chance to avoid execution" for Colorado's longest-serving death row inmate. As the final appeal guaranteed under law, the denial of Dunlap's petition for certiorari clears the way for an execution date to be scheduled.
The Denver Post reported that an attorney for Dunlap has given a statement saying that the man should serve life in prison without parole and that capital punishment in Colorado would be "unfair and disproportionate."
According to the facts of the case , presented in the orders resulting from Dunlap's petition before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals last year, Dunlap had been fired from his position as cook at the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora in July 1993, and "wanted to 'get even.'"
On Dec. 14 1993, Dunlap hid in the bathroom at the restaurant until closing and then emerged and shot employees Sylvia Crowell, Colleen O'Connor, Bobby Stephens, Marge Kohlberg and Ben Grant.
Stephens was shot in the face at close range but survived, the orders state.
In Febuary 1996, Dunlap was convicted of four counts of capital murder as well as other crimes, the orders stated. Later that year, he was sentenced to death on the murder counts and consecutive terms totaling 113 years in prison on the other counts.
The sentence was upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court on direct review, the orders reported. Dunlap's motion for sentence reconsideration and his motion for post-conviction relief were also denied by the state Supreme Court.
* Dunlap argued before the Supreme Court and, later, the Court of Appeals that his trial council was ineffective in presenting evidence that he was mentally ill -- evidence which might have "mitigated his culpability enough to persuade at least one juror to vote for life imprisonment instead of death," the orders state.
According to the orders, the Colorado Supreme Court found that Dunlap has said to a doctor during the evaluation, "I'm gonna play crazy as long as I can ... The police have no case against me, they're stupid."
Dunlap also made disparaging remarks about the victims, said the victims meant nothing to him and that he would kill again, the orders stated.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the Supreme Court's finding that the jury in the Dunlap case had found seven aggravating factors for each victim, including a previous felony conviction for second-degree kidnapping involving the use of a deadly weapon, murder committed while lying in wait and murder in the course of committing an aggravated robbery.
According to Denver's 7News , the U.S. Supreme Court receives hundreds of petitions for cases each year but denies all but about 100.
The 18th Judicial District Attorney will now make a motion in Arapahoe County District Court for the judge to issue a death warrant, the Denver Post reported, with the warrant specifying a week during which the execution should be carried out and the Colorado Department of Corrections selecting the day.
7News reported that since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976, only one person has been executed -- Gary Lee Davis in 1997. Dunlap is one of three men currently on Colorado's death row.
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