By Steven K. Paulson, Associated Press
DENVER In a plot fit for "Cold Case Files," state Rep. Paul Weissmann wants
to abolish the death penalty and use the savings from prosecuting and
defending death penalty cases to solve old cases, including 1,200 unsolved
murders since 1970.
Weissmann, a Democrat from Louisville, said the state could save about $2
million a year that is spent prosecuting and defending death penalty cases.
He said the money could be better spent catching criminals still walking the
"You can debate the moral issues of the death penalty, but you can't dispute
the economics," he said.
The legislation (House Bill 1094) would use the savings to help finance the
forensic unit, the chemistry lab and a cold-case unit in the Colorado Bureau
of Investigation. It would also allow local law enforcement agencies and
relatives of victims to request help solving old cases.
CBI spokesman Lance Clem said federal funds for a DNA registry ran out last
year. He said the CBI hasn't taken a position on the bill, but could use the
Howard Morton, 76, who formed a group in Colorado to pressure law
enforcement to solve old cases, said the number of unsolved murders is
increasing in Colorado at the rate of 40 a year. He said nationally, 94
percent of all murders were cleared in 1961. By 1999, that dropped to 69
Members of Morton's group plan to testify in support of the bill when it's
presented in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
"We want to be more active in our cases," he said.
Morton said his 18-year-old son, Guy, was murdered in Arizona and the case
is still unsolved.
Other bills coming up next week:
-- The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will take up a bill (House
Bill 1127) that would require sex offenders to provide an e-mail address so
authorities could track their online activity.
-- The House State Veterans and Military Affairs on Thursday will consider a
measure (House Bill 1007) that would make it a crime to be in this country
illegally. Currently it is a civil offense.
-- Millions of dollars from federal mining leases could be used to help pay
for public schools and state buildings under a proposal set to be considered
Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee. Under the proposal (Senate Bill
127), whenever the lease fund exceeds $120 million, the next $30 million
would go to the school fund and another $30 million would go to the capital
-- The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will consider a proposal
(House Bill 1147) that would keep the records and information in witness
protection cases confidential. Anyone who releases such information could be
put in jail for up to 18 months and pay a fine up to $5,000.
Source : The Associated Press