- The Washington Times - Friday, June 10, 2005

DENVER — Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey has agreed to spare the life of suspected cop killer Raul Gomez-Garcia in return for having him extradited to the United States.

Mr. Morrissey charged him late Thursday with second-degree murder and criminal intent to commit murder in the first degree, instead of first-degree murder, in order to ensure that the suspect will stand trial in Denver.

Mr. Gomez-Garcia, 20, was captured June 4 in Mexico in the Mother’s Day slaying of Denver Detective Donald Young and the shooting of Detective John Bishop, who survived. Killing a police officer is considered an aggravating circumstance in Colorado that would carry with it the possibility of the death penalty.

But Mexico’s tough extradition policies prevent authorities from extraditing Mexican citizens who would face the death penalty or life in prison without parole in the United States. Under Colorado law, a life sentence carries with it no provision of parole, Mr. Morrissey said.

“Under current Mexican law, I can’t seek extradition successfully if there is a death penalty involved or life without parole involved,” the district attorney said. “The next highest form of murder is second-degree murder, and so I have charged him with the second-degree murder of Detective Young.”

Mr. Morrissey said the decision to reduce the charge against the suspect came after he consulted with the detective’s widow, Kelly Young. “This is what she wants to do,” he said.

Mr. Gomez-Garcia could now face up to 96 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after 72 years.

The suspect is accused of shooting Detective Young, 43, and Detective Bishop, 35, after they refused to let him reenter a baptismal party. The officers were working security at the party in uniform, although both were off-duty.

The suspect was initially identified as Raul Garcia-Gomez, but authorities said Thursday that his name was actually Gomez-Garcia. He had been living in Denver for less than a year after entering the country illegally from Mexico.

Mr. Morrissey said he met with the Mexican consul general earlier this week, and that he was confident that he and Mexican officials were “on the same page” on the extradition issue.

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