KUSA – For the second time in less than a year, a Colorado judge has decided the state's "Make My Day" law applies to inmates inside prison cells.
Prosecutors had charged Aaron Bernal with murder in the 2011 death of inmate Cleveland Flood inside the Sterling Correctional Facility. Last month, according to documents reviewed by 9Wants to Know, a judge quietly dismissed the charges against him. In doing so the judge agreed Bernal's defense had successfully been able to show the state's "Make My Day" law applied to prison cells.
An autopsy revealed Flood sustained 90 stab wounds shortly after he entered Bernal's and Alaniz's unlocked cell inside the Sterling Correctional Facility on February 3, 2011. The defense in both cases argued Colorado's "Make My Day" law applied because both were inside what the law considers a "domicile" and both felt threatened by Flood.
Prosecutors bristled at the idea that an inmate could invoke the law and openly worried about its ramifications should, for example, an inmate kill a corrections officer inside his or her prison cell.
Now that two murder cases have been dismissed, Logan County District Attorney Brittny Lewton tells 9Wants to Know her office will not, as of now, be able to file murder charges against two inmates accused of murdering inmate Cody Gray in August of last year. The case bears important similarities to the Cleveland Flood case as prosecutors believe Gray entered the cell of two inmates shortly before the inmates repeatedly stabbed Gray to death.
Lewton said she will continue to appeal both cases, but she hinted it might take legislative action to fix the issue.
Her office is particularly versed in the dangers of life inside the Sterling Correctional Facility. Six of the last 10 killings to occur in the state's prison system have occurred inside SCF.
(© 2015 KUSA)