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Legislators this year considered a bill that would have ended the death penalty, but they dropped it when Mr. Hickenlooper sent word he might veto it.

In his reprieve order, Mr. Hickenlooper said the death penalty is used inconsistently across Colorado, and he cited problems in obtaining the drugs required for lethal injection, the execution method mandated by state law. He also said many states and nations are moving toward banning executions.

Dunlap, whose execution was scheduled for the week of Aug. 18, got only a reprieve, not the clemency he sought. Clemency would have removed the possibility of execution and changed his sentence to life without parole.

Mr. Dunlap was grateful. His expressions of remorse were genuine. He is truly sad for what happened,” said Phil Cherner, one of his attorneys. “This is not a day to celebrate.”

Mr. Cherner has said that Dunlap had undiagnosed bipolar disorder at the time of the crime and that his attitude has changed since the state prison system began medicating him in 2006.

• Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi, Colleen Slevin, Catherine Tsai and Kristen Wyatt contributed to this article.