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Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene wants records from George Brauchler that might blow up AG’s race

Author: Joey Bunch - January 1, 2018 - Updated: January 3, 2018

BrauchlerIn this Aug. 7, 2015, file photo, District Attorney George Brauchler speaks outside the Arapahoe County Courthouse in Centennial after the jury sentenced convicted Aurora theater shooter James Holmes to life in prison without parole. Brauchler announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, that he was suspending his campaign for governor and would be runnning instead for attorney general. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Susan Greene doesn’t sugarcoat her thoughts. Ask George Brauchler, whom she compared to a kid hiding under his mother’s skirt in a column last week. She’s vowing to chase him out.

My friend for 16 years, Greene is a veteran investigative journalist in this state who is the editor of the Colorado Independent. She wants documents she thinks the public has a right to see. Brauchler, the tough-as-nails prosecutor in the 18th Judicial District, says the courts don’t agree.

Greene is looking into the case of Sir Mario Owens, who is on Colorado’s death row for killing the son of now-state Sen. Rhonda Fields in 2005. Javad Marshall-Fields was shot to death with his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe. He witnessed a friend’s murder and planned to testify.

The Independent, which has a reputation for leaning to the political left, wants to dig into the evidence the DA’s office withheld from Owens’ defense team. If Greene gets a look at that evidence and proves the withheld evidence is serious misconduct, Owens might have a chance to escape the death penalty in a pro-death penalty state.

Owens and co-conspirator Robert Ray make up two-thirds of Colorado’s death row.

The other is Nathan Dunlap, convicted for killing four employees inside an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese in 1993. Dunlap complicated Gov. John Hickenlooper’s re-election bid in 2014, after the governor couldn’t decide the killer’s fate, an alleged weakness attacked by political opponents.

A death penalty supporter who tried and failed to get it for Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, Brauchler is almost certain to be the Republican nominee for attorney general next year, a down-ticket race Republicans usually win in Colorado.

An Arapahoe County judge in September denied Owens appeal while acknowledging prosecutors withheld some evidence that could have been favorable to Owens. Among the items previously noted was witness-protection files in the gang-related case.

The allegation of misconduct throws shade on next year’s AG race and provides attack ads for the five viable Democrats running in a primary race for a shot to take on Brauchler next November. Could it be enough to tip the race? You can bet Democrats would like to find out.

It was one of the Independent’s donors — or someone using that name in an e-mail — who solicited Colorado Politics to republish Greene’s column.

I reached out to Brauchler. He responded that he’d love to discuss Greene’s “one-sided” column, but he’s restricted from discussing sealed evidence.

In an e-mail to the Independent’s lawyers, Steve Zansberg and Gregory Szewczyk of Ballard Spahr LLP, Brauchler’s senior deputy DA, Rich Orman, characterized the allegations as “salacious and unproven,” Greene wrote.

She quoted Orman’s e-mail: “The District Attorney believes that the court in this case has, and can continue to, limit access to portions of its file that may become the vehicle for an improper purpose, namely for the court file to improperly serve as a reservoir of libelous statements for press consumption.”

You can read Greene’s column by clicking here.

Greene has years of experience digging into such matters, including Brauchler’s predecessor, Carol Chambers.

Greene was a Pulitzer finalist for co-authoring “Trashing the Truth,” a 2007 Denver Post series with Miles Moffeit, who also has left the Post in 2010. The examination of how DNA evidence is handled by prosecutors “remains the finest piece of journalism by the Denver Post over the past decade,” Westword’s Michael Roberts wrote in 2010.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.

One comment

  • James H Cowles

    January 2, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Colorado has always been my favorite place to be. That is until the liberal supporters of marijuana were able to swing a vote in their favor. The Governor in an interview not too long ago said that Colorado was doing great with the weed issue. I found that hard to believe. Increased deaths due to this substance, traffic accidents and death due to this product, a major increase in homeless in Denver, Boulder, and now Ft Collins. Meth has increased, along with related crime. And what do our legislators do about it? Nothing. I know that the Governor wants more druggies for votes, but is that really a good reason. Colorado used to be a great and healthy place to live. It is not the same now.

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