A Colorado man sentenced to the death penalty in the ax murders of three women has been spared, and instead will spend the rest of his life in prison. William “Cody” Neal was sentenced to death by court in 1999 for the murders during a six-day rampage that began June 30, 1998.
The Rocky Mountain News says that Jefferson County District Judge Tom Woodford revoked the death sentence Friday and imposed three consecutive life prison terms because of recent rulings that Colorado’s law was unconstitutional. “Certainly, this case cried out for the death penalty, but that is no longer an option,” prosecutor Charles Tingle said.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that only jurors can decide whether a convicted murderer will be executed. The decision threw out judge- sentencing systems in Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Montana and Nebraska. As a result, Colorado changed its law in July so that juries do the sentencing in capital cases, as they did before 1995, when the legislature adopted a system of judicial panels’ making the decision.