DENVER – A man convicted in the slaying of a cocktail waitress was resentenced to life in prison Monday, nearly nine months after his death sentence was overturned because a juror consulted the Bible during deliberations.
In March, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling that a jury went beyond the evidence at Robert Harlan's trial in the 1994 death of Rhonda Maloney, 25.
At the resentencing hearing, Adams County Judge Scott Crabtree said the life sentence was mandated by the judicial system.
"It could be said you may have avoided the death penalty by a technicality," he told Harlan. "I have no discretion here."
Kathleen Lord, Harlan's defense attorney, said the decision to throw out Harlan's sentence was correct.
"An eye for an eye is not the law of Colorado," Lord said, referring to the jury's use of the Old Testament. "It was a serious error of the law."
Harlan was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering Maloney. He also was convicted of shooting and paralyzing a motorist who tried to help Maloney escape.
"It's a damn shame the (death penalty) verdict will not be carried out," Bob Grant, the former district attorney who prosecuted Harlan, said after the hearing.
Maloney's sister, Kerri Gemeinhardt, said she was disappointed.
"I'm unhappy that he didn't get the death sentence," Gemeinhardt said after the hearing. "But as long as he never gets out, I'm satisfied."