Jury selection begins in Colorado corrections officer's killing

Jan. 6, 2014 at 4:23 PM

DENVER, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A Colorado father said he is protesting a prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty for his son's accused killer, a man he's since forgiven.

Corrections officer Eric Autobee was killed in the kitchen at Limon Correctional Facility 10 years ago. Inmate Edward Montour, serving a life sentence for killing a young girl, was charged with the crime. After initially pleading guilty and being sentenced to death, Montour went on a years-long legal campaign to revoke his guilty plea and instead plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Finally in April, a judge agreed and jury selection began Monday.

Leading up to the trial, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler announced he will seek the death penalty against Montour.

That, says Autobee's father Bob, is a "calamity."

The elder Autobee said he went through years of anger, depression and substance abuse in the wake of his son's death until recently returning to religion and finding it within himself to forgive Montour.

"I don't want my son's name attached to this lynch mob," Autobee told the Denver Post.

Autobee, who staged a protest outside the courtroom where jury selection began Monday morning, has criticized the state Legislature for failing to address the death penalty issue and the Corrections Department whose work rules he said left his son vulnerable to attack.

"The whole state is in a calamity," Autobee said. "I don't know if that's the word for it -- I don't know what you would call incompetence and apathy at the same time."

For his part, Brauchler said he understands the father's position on capital punishment but must also take into account the safety of corrections officers tasked with guarding killers already convicted of serving life in prison.

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