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A man sentenced to death for one of Southern Colorado’s most gruesome crimes, now wants his sentence reduced to life behind bars.
George Woldt is basing his request on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that only juries can impose the death penalty. A 3-judge panel sentenced Woldt to death for the 1997 murder of Jacine Gielinski.
Under a 1995 state law, 3-judge panels determine whether the death penalty is appropriate. This comes after jurors decide whether aggravating factors exist.
Next week in a special legislative session, state lawmakers will debate the fate of Woldt and two other Colorado inmates who are awaiting execution. Governor Bill Owens and State Attorney General Ken Salazar say they’ll recommend Colorado revert to its old death penalty process.
Owens and Salazar say a 3-judge panel is constitutional, but favor the old system for its simplicity and certainty.