Just uttering the words “death penalty” evokes strong emotions, regardless of where you stand on the issue. When the jury in the Aurora theater trial was unable to come to a unanimous decision for the death penalty, and imposed a life sentence without the possibility of parole, most were stunned. In a state where the death penalty is a legal sentence, it was difficult to reason how this horrific mass murder wouldn’t qualify in the mind of one of the jurors. It is a good conversation for the community to have. Reasonable people can disagree on the death penalty and will continue to do so.In an interview with the Denver Post, George Brauchler, the prosecuting attorney in the Aurora theater trial, describes why he thinks the death penalty is necessary in this kind of case:
Brauchler said the state needs a penalty that speaks to the gravity of what Holmes did.
“How do you treat them like someone who killed one. That is not justice,” he said.
Brauchler said he alone made the decision to go forward despite the request by some victims not to go to trial.
I know something about prosecuting attorneys. In January of 2002, my brother Richard was murdered in Las Vegas, NV and we began our 2-year relationship with a fine and committed group of homicide detectives and prosecutors. Being the family of a murder victim isn’t something that life prepares you for. It is gut-wrenching, life-changing and makes the family question everything they knew to be true the moment before the news of the murder.
In our situation, the death penalty was also a legal sentence in the state of Nevada. There were circumstances of the murder (namely kidnap and torture) that made Richard’s murderers eligible for the death penalty. Having never given a moment’s thought to the death penalty before my brother’s murder, I found myself ready to personally administer the sentence. I never imagined being able to feel that way. Now I understand it.
The prosecutors in our case consulted us every step of the way. As the family members of the murder victim, we were adamant about the death penalty being pursued in our case. And the prosecutors pursued it. After the guilty verdict of the two murderers, their counsel came to the prosecutors with a deal: trade away the death penalty for a life sentence. The defendants would not be able to pursue any appeals, save their right to appeal based on incompetent counsel. As a family, we liked the deal, since we could get the murder behind us sooner, and begin our healing. We don’t regret that decision in our case. The existence of the death penalty in Nevada allowed that negotiation to take place. It gave the murderers something to trade away.
I can only imagine these similar discussions between George Brauchler and the victims’ families in the Aurora theater trial. Based on the news coverage, most victims’ families were supportive of pursuing the death penalty but some weren’t. If I were in their shoes, I would have been supportive of the death penalty for this horrendous crime. This jury decision came down to one juror. Most jurors were able to support the death penalty.
Some people are saying that Brauchler pursued the death penalty for political reasons. Given my personal experience with the prosecutors in our family’s situation, I don’t see any way Brauchler could have not pursued the death penalty in this case. I don’t buy it.
I don’t know Brauchler well, but I’m impressed with his job performance. I like that he took full responsibility for the death penalty strategy in this case. I like that victims’ families in the theater trial have been so supportive and have so much respect for Brauchler. I understand this kind of support and respect. I had the same respect for the prosecutors in the case to bring my brother’s murderers to justice.
Outside of the courtroom, I like that Brauchler doesn’t talk like a politician. I like that this is his first elected job. I like that he has a military background. I like that he has always been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and a supporter of average citizens’ ability to defend themselves.
I’d like to see George Brauchler throw his hat in the ring and run for US Senate against Michael Bennet. He can win a US Senate race. He is well respected in Republican circles, and is known to be a rock solid conservative. If Brauchler were in the Republican primary, he should win handily. If he were the Republican nominee, Brauchler would have a good life story to tell when standing next to Senator Michael Bennet. In fact, I bet he’s the candidate that Michael Bennet fears the most.
Will you join me in asking George Brauchler to consider a run for US Senate?
Photo Credit: The Denver Post