This man is about to become the most unpopular man in Colorado, if not America. Public defender Daniel King is trying to get accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes off of the death penalty. Holmes, 27, is charged with over 100 offenses related to the attack which killed 12 people on the night of July 20, 2012. The state wants Holmes dead.
Here’s what you need to know about the man with one of the toughest jobs in the world:
1. King Has Sought to Delay James Holmes’ Trial at Every Opportunity
After initially planning to plead guilty to the charges on behalf of Holmes in an attempt to avoid the death penalty, King later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The trial began on April 27, nearly three years after the shooting, in Arapahoe County District Court. The delays were mainly due to objections from King. He first argued that the insanity plea rules were unconstitutional. The Denver Post reported in May 2013 that King felt it was unfair that Colorado’s insanity laws barred the testimony of mental health experts. Holmes spent some of August 2013 in a mental health institution for evaluation. The trial was originally due to begin in October 2014, and then December, but both times King successfully got a continuance due to health issues relating to one of his staff.
2. In His Last High-Profile Murder Case, King Has Admitted He Made Multiple Mistakes
Famously, King represented murderer Sir Mario Owens, who got the death penalty in 2008. At the time, Owens was one of only three people on Colorado’s death row, according to the Associated Press. Owens was found guilty of killing Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee Vivian Wolfe back in 2005. Marshall-Fields was about to testify in the murder trial of one of Owens’ friends. In October 2014, speaking to the Denver Post, King admitted to mistakes during the trial, including his own performance in court. He blamed this on his office being overwhelmed.
3. He’s Served on Other High Profile Murder Cases
He also defended killer Jerry Nemnich, reports the Daily Sentinel. In that incident, Nemnich was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the killing of Linda Benson, 25, and her 5-year-old daughter Kelley Ketchum.
4. He’s Been a Public Defender for 20 Years
According to his LinkedIn page, King has been with the public defender’s office since September 1995. He studied at Boston College and got his law degree from the University of Denver. On the public defender’s website, King is listed as Chief Deputy Public Defender. On that page it’s noted that the office operates with a budget of $83 million.
5. James Holmes’ Trial Is a ‘Referendum on the Death Penalty in Colorado’
According to former Denver chief deputy district attorney, Craig Silverman, the James Holmes case is basically a referendum in Colorado on the death penalty. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Sliverman said “For those people who say, ‘Give the Aurora theater killer a plea bargain, let him plead and spend the rest of his life in prison,’ that would be the end of capital punishment in Colorado.” Rick Kornfel, a former federal prosecutor, disagrees, he told the Times “The question is not, ‘Are there crimes heinous enough that, if there’s a death penalty, a death penalty could be an appropriate sentence?’ It begs the question of whether the death penalty makes sense.”