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The mental health of Mr. Holmes, who showed up at the first several hearings with a blank stare and orange-dyed hair, is likely to be an issue raised by his defense.

Dunlap’s attorneys have also released a video and note from Dunlap in which he apologizes for “the pain and suffering I’ve caused the victims’ families and friends I wish there was something more that I could do to relieve any pain.”

Mr. Brauchler has countered by releasing letters from victims’ relatives, jurors and a former friend of Dunlap’s urging the governor to respect the jury’s decision. Several of those, including Bobby Stephens, the lone shooting survivor, have appeared recently on Denver television talking about the damage inflicted by Dunlap.

Dunlap was 19 when he burst into the restaurant after closing time Dec. 14, 1993, shooting five former co-workers after he was fired. He told authorities afterward that killing them was “better than sex.”

Sandi Rogers, whose 17-year-old son Benjamin Grant was killed in the massacre, said that she and other victims’ family members met with the governor May 3. Her message for him: Do nothing.

“What I’ve been saying is that there needs to be more about Ben [and the other victims], because if their names were mentioned every time Nathan Dunlap’s name was mentioned, people would realize this isn’t about Nathan Dunlap,” said Mrs. Rogers. “This is about those four people. That’s where the focus needs to be.”