State public defender releases aggregate spending on death penalty cases

From The Denver Post:  The Colorado Public Defender’s office has spent a combined $6.3 million on death penalty cases during the past 13 years.

In response to a request from The Denver Post, the office on Tuesday released its aggregate cost of handling death penalty cases between July 12, 2002 and Oct. 31, 2015. During that time period, public defenders handled a total of 10 cases in which prosecutors filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty.

Most recently, public defenders represented Aurora theater shooter James Holmes and Dexter Lewis, who stabbed five people to death in a Denver bar. Prosecutors sought the death penalty in both cases.

Both men were sentenced to life in prison after lengthy trials this summer.

Under Colorado law, the public defender’s office says it is prohibited from revealing or discussing details about individual cases. As a result, the office did not release the names of the defendants in the 10 cases or a breakdown of costs for each case.

The $6.3 million total includes expenses the office incurred in handling the cases and the “best estimate of the portion of” salaries that can be attributed to death penalty cases. The office said it did not hire additional staff specifically for death penalty cases.

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