More than a decade of legal wrangling came to an end last week when inmate Edward Montour pled guilty to first-degree murder in the beating death of a corrections officer.
The death-penalty bid for the killing of Eric Autobee, 23, in a Limon prison was dropped in exchange for Montour’s guilty plea. He agreed to the plea in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The agreement with the prosecutors was made final in an emotional end to the case March 6 in Douglas County District Court.
The deal is a relief to Autobee’s parents, Bob and Lola Autobee of St. Joseph Church in Pueblo, who fought prosecutors’ push for Montour’s execution.
“This thing has taken a big toll on us, but the outcome makes it worth it,” Autobee told the Denver Catholic Register. “My son will never be brought back, but at least his name won’t be associated with the death penalty.”
The Catholic community supported Autobee who attended the trial’s hearings. Father Joseph Vigil and Sister Joanna Rosciszewska, C.S.J., joined Autobee when he visited Montour in jail December 2013.
“It was an emotional thing,” he said, when the men expressed sorrow and forgiveness.
Autobee and his family, who lost their son in 2002, underwent a conversion and became vocal about the death penalty.
“Two wrongs never made a right,” he said.
Autobee said he wants to work with other victims of tragedies to advocate for an end to the death penalty in Colorado.
Convicted Aurora Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap was going to be executed last year, but Gov. John Hickenlooper granted him a stay of execution.
Also on death row is Sir Mario Owens, who was convicted in the 2008 deaths of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe. Robert Ray, who Marshall-Fields was set to testify against when he was killed, is on death row.
Montour was serving a life sentence for killing his 11-week-old daughter when he killed Eric Autobee with a kitchen ladle in the Limon Correctional Facility.
He initially pled guilty to slaying Autobee in 2003 and was sentenced to death until the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the sentence in 2007.