- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (AP) - An inmate pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in the beating death of a Colorado prison guard after prosecutors dropped their plan to seek the death penalty.

Douglas County District Judge Richard Caschette immediately sentenced Edward Montour to life in prison, The Denver Post reported (https://bit.ly/1hPcuUm ).

“I hope for his sake his remorse is sincere,” Caschette said before sentencing Montour.

Montour had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2002 death of Eric Autobee, and his trial got underway Wednesday. The plea agreement emerged after Montour’s lawyers said new evidence cast doubt on his original conviction in the 1997 death of his 11-month-old daughter.

Montour was serving a life sentence in that case when he attacked Autobee. A coroner changed the girl’s death certificate last month to say the manner of death was unknown instead of homicide.



Defense lawyers also argued Montour was suffering from an untreated mental illness.

Prosecutors said Montour struck Autobee in the head with a kitchen ladle at the Limon Correctional Facility.

The guard’s father, Bob Autobee, opposes the death penalty and said he has forgiven Montour. He protested District Attorney George Brauchler’s decision to seek it during jury selection and fought for the right to testify about his opposition.

Montour originally was sentenced to death by a judge after pleading guilty in 2003 to killing Eric Autobee. But the Colorado Supreme Court overturned that sentence in 2007, saying only a jury could impose capital punishment.

Montour was allowed to enter a new plea last year.

Brauchler unsuccessfully sought to delay the trial last week because he said defense lawyers waited until a month before the trial to present evidence that Montour was wrongfully convicted in his daughter’s death.

During opening arguments, defense attorneys didn’t dispute that Montour killed Eric Autobee. Instead, they said Montour “unraveled” while in prison because of his untreated mental illness.

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Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.com

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