Guess which paper wasn't? In fact, the Post was so peeved at the thought of losing its seat that it threatened to pull out of the organization. "The CPA was caught in the middle of two big papers," Otte says, as diplomatically as he can. "The board tried to correct what needed to be corrected."
So on September 10, the CPA threw everything back at Zavaras. Two days later he announced that the AP and the Daily Record would keep their seats and that he would hold a drawing between the Post, the News and the Colorado Springs Gazette, the state's only other daily with a circulation over 100,000, on September 16.
Late on the afternoon of September 15, the Post took its case to court. In its request for an injunction to stop the drawing, it called Zavaras's decision "arbitrary and capricious, and in violation of the Denver Post's constitutional and property rights to continue to be the large market newspaper witness." The Post's lawyers included Don Bain, former candidate for Denver mayor, and Manuel Martinez, who, as Denver's manager of safety seven years ago, supervised Zavaras when he was the city's chief of police.
Augmented by editors from the News and Post, the group met again in Denver District Court last Thursday to argue whether a newspaper's opportunity to watch a man die constituted a valid "property right."
Judge Frederick Alvarez concluded that it did and upheld the Post's position. "The Denver Post has been advising its readers that its reporter, Kevin Simpson, will witness the execution of Gary Lee Davis," Alvarez ruled. "The Denver Post argues that it will lose credibility if [Zavaras] will vacate its selection and thus convert the Denver Post's representation into an inaccuracy. The court concurs." As for Thomas's claims of impropriety concerning the DOC's insistence that the News be excluded, the judge was "dubious."
"The DOC got me to do their dirty work," responds Thomas, who stands by his story. "I feel terrible about how it's turned out. It's torn apart the membership."
Like Channel 9, the News now says it will surrender and accept the current lineup.
And so when, sometime in the next three weeks, Gary Davis is led into the death chamber and given a lethal injection, Kevin Simpson will be in one of the seats, watching.
"In retrospect," Simpson wrote back in 1991, "it seems a morbid and macabre lottery, a solemn blind draw that selected me to witness a murder."
Usually the vultures wait until a body is dead before they tear it apart.