Letters to the Editor

From the week of June 17, 2004

Ad nauseam: In "Stripped," his June 3 column, Michael Roberts reports that "by mid-week, fewer than fifty readers had registered their displeasure with the DNA" over the comics purge at the Post/News. Hardly surprising, considering the obvious editorial contempt being heaped on the section by management. The funnies are a cluttered mess -- horizontal, vertical, square, huge, tiny, and the whole thing hidden in some half-page wrapper with a carpet-cleaning advertisement concealing the first page. It's pretty obvious the only reason they bother with a comics section at all is to force the reader to search through all the department-store and big-box supplements to see where they hid it this week. Why complain when it's obviously part of the plan?

If this was really about saving newsprint, you would suppose they would look for some way to send out, say, one Kohl's flier per issue rather than a half-dozen. On the other hand, maybe that's part of the circulation spin and there to fluff up the distribution numbers.

J.W. Likes

Pleas and Thank You

An unfinished sentence: Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Greatest Hits," in the May 27 issue:

I continue to appreciate Westword's coverage of Lisl Auman's case over the past six and a half years that she has been imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. Thank you for citing "Prisoner of Denver," Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Mark Seal's June 2004 Vanity Fair article.

Lisl Auman's case is very complex, to be sure. Certainly, no one would confuse Thompson's "figurative" rape metaphor with anything but the symbolism it represents -- in this case, reprehensible acts of cruelty -- but the irony is not lost on those who would agree. I do, however, feel compelled to respond to some misinformation that has emanated from the mainstream Denver press. Take, for example, Calhoun's belief that Lisl refused "...a plea that would have removed the felony-murder charge and likely had her out on the streets today."

Lisl's attorneys were approached on one occasion with a plea-bargain offer. That proposal would have required Lisl to plead guilty to three counts: first-degree assault on a police officer, first-degree burglary, and accessory to murder after the fact, all of which are crimes of violence that add aggravating factors to the mandatory-sentencing guidelines.

It was only after the highly publicized May 15, 2001, Free Lisl rally that rumors began to circulate that Lisl was offered a plea bargain of a substantially reduced prison term. It is common practice in Colorado to deny parole to all violent offenders until they have served a minimum of 75 percent of their prison sentences. Being granted parole would certainly have proven to be an arduous task in Lisl's case, but under no practical or factual outcomes would she have been granted parole by now or for years to come.

Maybe with Vanity Fair moving Lisl's story to the national spotlight, it will allow the more critical aspects of her case to be seriously re-examined, and the masses will no longer be obliged to ponder such matters as the degree to which Denver is or is not civilized, or what official grotesque displays of indecency must take place before they can legitimately, even if metaphorically, be referred to as violent rape. Thank you for continuing to follow my daughter's story and allowing me to comment.

Don M. Auman

Editor's note: To read Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter's letter to Vanity Fair in response to Hunter Thompson's story, go to www.denverda.org.

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