A bill to repeal the death penalty in Colorado divided families of murder victims during a hearing at the state Capitol on Wednesday.
Clutching photographs and sometimes tearing up, those who have lost loved ones at the hands of others gave passionate testimony both for and against the death penalty at a state Senate committee meeting. The panel approved the bill 3-2 on a party-line vote.
On one side were family members of victims whose killers have not been caught and who said money spent prosecuting death-penalty cases would be better spent investigating cold cases, as the bill directs. Stephanie Cummins — whose brother, cousin and step-father were all murdered in unrelated and unsolved cases — said her grief would not end with the killers' deaths.
"These murderers, I don't want death for them," she said. "I want them behind bars for the rest of their lives. I am willing to trade vengeance for justice."
On the other side of the debate were people who have seen their loved ones' killers and who believe the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for murder. Joe Cannata, the founder of Voices of Victims whose daughter was murdered 22 years ago by her boyfriend, read a letter from Rhonda Fields, whose son, Javad Marshall-Fields, was killed by a man now on death row.