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The Death Penalty and George Brauchler

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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



This Post Has 22 Comments
  1. Wonderful article Laura – I’m so so sorry about your brother. I agree that George Brauchler would make a wonderful candidate for US Senate.

    DA Brauchler’s office has been a tremendous help to me on a project near and dear to my heart – they took the extra effort to help me when others would not.

  2. Excellent statement, Laura, as one would expect from you. I felt the anguish, the torment, the conflict. My imagination is stretched to near breaking point if I had to deal with the murderer of a family member. Never having been in such a situation, I confess I am at a loss to understand the healing process. I suspect I would never heal, and, indeed, I may not want to. I cannot fathom a jury not imposing the death penalty on Holmes. The absence of that sanction is not a reverence for life but a trivializing of life. Brauchler seems impressive. If he’s got your and Heidi’s blessings, then his character has been established as unimpeachable. Sorry for your loss.

  3. From radio interviews Brachler has had, he seems honest, sensitive to victims, stong in his convictions and very competent.

    I can certainly understand some of the victims’ families wanting life imprisonment without parole. Their emotional trauma has been long and arduous. You have felt that trauma and survived. Some might not be as strong. Only those who have been through that experience, as you have, can truly understand that agonizing emotional trauma.

    How can we urge Mr. Brachler to run against Bennet?

  4. Uh, no.
    It is time to abolish the death penalty.
    And, supporting Brauchler’s grandstanding and wasting taxpayers’ money is just wrong.

  5. I love to hear him speak. He’s not tone deaf like so many others. Compassion, and yet firm justice. Rules, and yet a conscience. If he were a leader, I would follow.

  6. The only consolation I get from a life in prison sentence is to know that these animals will spend 23 hours a day in a 6 foot cell with 1 hour outside by themselves with a chain link fence in which they never talk to anyone and have their meals passed through the door. In a way it’s worse than a death sentence as that is where they will spend each and every minute for the rest of their lives.

      1. Laura, I remembered the fateful day we found out Richard had passed at Mikohn. I was a young adult who worked the reception desk there and I remember his wife kicking one of her many children to keep them in line while bringing the baby they adopted into the office. I just remembered him today and set to google. Thank you for being a reasonable and compassionate person, your brother was the kindest soul and did not deserve the fate he was handed. I never knew what happened to Suzanne and I am glad she’s still imprisoned. Wishing you and the rest of your family fond memories still to this day of his gentle smile.

    1. First of all, not all prisoners are locked in their cells all day long. Second of all, not all prisoners are animals. Third of all, some people prefer the isolation. So think before you type.

  7. Laura, losing a family member is hard enough, but to lose them to evil is beyond my comprehension. I’m truly sorry for your loss. I don’t know much abut the DA, but if he holds conservative convictions, I hope he runs for Bennet’s seat. Even a yellow dog would be better than Bennet!

  8. Laura, I was so sorry to hear of your loss. I can’t imagine the horror of losing someone close under such circumstances.

    On another note, I’ve been wondering when you would start working to move Bennet out (you did such a brilliant job with Udall). I wrote to him about Planned Parenthood and his form letter reply was sickening. I am all for Brauchler; I hope he reads your posts and takes them to heart. I quite agree with Karon McCormick about Holmes: if he was not to be executed, at least we won’t have the farce of having him do a few years in a mental hospital only to be released when he is “cured.”

    1. James Holmes would never be released. Just because he went with the insanity plea doesn’t mean that he would have gotten out. You don’t just “get released”.

  9. Laura,
    Thank you for sharing your personal and heart breaking story with all of us. This is a true act of courage and sacrifice to do so. My heart Amd sympathies go out to you and your family. I had no idea of your terrible experience. I was truly distressed that the dirtbag got out of the death penalty which he richly deserved. I only hope that he will be dealt with in prison, if you know what I mean. As to George Braichler, he sounds like a fine man who I could easily support. Hope he runs. God bless you and your family.

  10. I’d prefer Bennett over Brauchler because at very least Bennett wasn’t trying to execute a mentally ill man.

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