Arapahoe County DA Charges Death-Penalty Fees to the State

How does DA Carol Chambers beat the high cost of a death-penalty prosecution? By billing the prison system.

Legislative staffers responded to the DOC's request to double its usual allotment for prosecutions by suggesting that lawmakers may want to repeal the statute involved to prevent its abuse. "It is the staff's understanding that the statute...was intended to provide rural counties with assistance when prisons in the county drive prosecution costs," one analysis states. "However, staff has been informed that larger counties are starting to request reimbursement under this statute even for prosecuting alleged crimes [involving] offenders in community corrections...these payments could increase dramatically."

A separate part of Lane's motion seeks the removal of special prosecutor Daniel Edwards, who once represented Perez in one phase of his 1997 murder case — the same case that's now an "aggravator" in seeking a lethal injection for Perez. A judge has ruled that Edwards can't work directly on the Perez prosecution, but Lane thinks the prosecutor is ethically obligated to remove himself from the Bueno case as well, since the two are so intertwined. "He represented Alejandro Perez on the very murder conviction Edwards now employs in the effort to execute him," the motion notes, "and Alejandro Perez objects to his lawyer trying to kill him."

Chambers, who is seeking a second term this fall, declines to comment on the Edwards matter until the judge has ruled on it. However, she notes that the judge in the Bueno case rebuffed a similar effort to disqualify Edwards and Chambers's office from that case. A spokeswoman said the district attorney's office will not comment on specific legal issues in the Bueno and Perez cases because they are ongoing.

Ongoing — and with the Bueno trial under way and Perez still to come, the meter is ticking at a furious pace.

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