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Victims' family says the death penalty 'doesn't exist' in Colorado

Victims' family says the death penalty 'doesn't exist' in CO

CANON CITY, Colo. - Despite the victims family begging the judge to consider the death penalty, he sentenced Jacoob Vanwinkle to life in prison without parole.

"They have effectively eliminated the death penalty without eliminating the death penalty," said Danny Stotler, the brother and uncle of the murdered family members: 35-year-old Mandy Folsom, 9-year-old Marissa, and 5-year-old Mason.

"I feel this is a failure of a Colorado state judicial system. I feel as if they do not process these types of criminals appropriately. I feel like if he was 300 miles south in Texas he would be on an escalator to death row and I think that's appropriate," said Danny Stotler.

"You heard the judge in there, we have to wait 20 years and it might not even happen by then anyway. Effectively eliminating the death penalty, even though we voted it in," said Jim Stotler, the father and grandfather of the murdered family.  

The Stutlers' think politics taking place far from the courtroom have a strong presence in Canon City.

"During the time that it took to meet with the district attorney to go through the details of these sexual abuses and murders, was the fact that, the governor's decision to delay Mr. Dunlap's case came up several times," said Danny Stotler.

Danny Stotler refers to the case of Nathan Dunlap.

He was scheduled for Colorado's first execution in 15 years for killing four people at an Aurora restaurant in 1993. But months before the execution date, Gov. John Hickenlooper granted Dunlap a "temporary reprieve."

"It makes it so difficult for them. It handcuffs them to do what's proper. Mr. Ledoux properly thought he should be put to death," said Danny Stotler.

District Attorney Thom Ledoux did say the governor's decision in the Dunlap case played a role in accepting the plea deal.

Jim Stotler added, "We have a governor that's doing the two-step. He doesn't believe in the death penalty, but he does. So he just decides to delay it and pass it to the next election. That's horrible. You can't play politics with the death penalty. That's too serious."

Some of the victims' family members say they agree with the district attorney's decision of life in prison, but only because they want to avoid years of reliving awful memories.

In the end, the whole family seems to agree that the death sentence is suitable for Vanwinkle, and life in prison will allow healing, but not justice.

Vanwinkle is back in court at the end of September.

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