Denver Post

Syndicate content Latest news, sports, weather from Denver and Colorado | The Denver Post
Colorado breaking news, sports, business, weather, entertainment.
Updated: 14 min 33 sec ago

Denver weather: First week of spring brings warmer, average temperatures to metro area

35 min 18 sec ago

The warmer temperatures at the beginning of the week are expected to continue in Denver on Wednesday, the first day of spring, bringing a chance of rain showers Friday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service of Boulder.

Forecasters predict sunny skies with a high near 57 degrees on Wednesday, with some light winds, similar to Thursday’s high temperatures. Those on Spring Break will be able to enjoy the reprieve from the winter cold throughout the week. The weather service said the temperatures are near average across the Front Range.

Wednesday evening is expected to be cooler with a low near 28 degrees.

An upper ridge will bring a pleasant First Day of Spring to Northeastern and North Central Colorado today. #cowx

— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) March 20, 2019

On Friday, precipitation is expected, though nothing like last week’s bomb cyclone. The weather service expects a 30 percent chance of rain showers and thunderstorms after noon on Thursday, but the high will remain in the 50s, around 55 degrees. Saturday’s high is expected to go up to 59 degrees and Sunday’s day temperatures will remain warm.

A chance of rain showers is expected Sunday after noon and into the evening.

Related Articles

Journalism isn’t free. Show your support of local news coverage by becoming a subscriber.
Your first month is only 99 cents.

The smallest and farthest worlds ever explored by NASA are really, really weird

1 hour 5 min ago

HOUSTON — In recent months, NASA has explored the smallest object ever orbited and the most distant body ever encountered — and found that both worlds are weirder than anyone could have imagined.

NASA/Goddard-University of ArizonaA view across Bennu’s southern hemisphere and into space, showing the number and distribution of boulders across the asteroid’s surface.

The 800-foot-wide asteroid Bennu, which is currently being studied by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, produces strange plumes of dust particles. Principal investigator Dante Lauretta, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, called the discovery “one of the biggest surprises of my scientific career.”

Meanwhile, data collected during the New Horizons spacecraft’s New Year’s Day flight past a far-flung icy object called MU69 suggests that the body is weirdly flat. Planetary scientist William McKinnon, a co-investigator on the mission, compared the two-part body to “a meatball attached to a pancake.”

The strange findings from both missions were presented this week at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference outside Houston, raising questions and offering clues about how the solar system works.

Though the dust plumes seen streaming off Bennu don’t pose any threat to the spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx has revealed other, less pleasant, surprises in its four months at the asteroid. Researchers said Tuesday that the surface of Bennu is far more rugged than expected; some of the boulders that comprise this cosmic “rubble pile” may be as large as 150 feet across — bigger than a baseball diamond.

The finding could pose problems for plans to scoop up a sample of the asteroid’s surface material and bring it back to Earth, researchers said. Because they had believed that Bennu would be dusty, OSIRIS-REx doesn’t have a mechanism for breaking up big rocks. The mission team instead plans to give Bennu something like an air kiss, using a puff of gas to raise a cloud of dusty material and gather it into a capsule that will eventually be sent back home.

The team will need to spend the next year or so carefully seeking a site that contains the right kind of material for this sample collection process. And when the time comes to actually grab the sample, in 2020, spacecraft operators will have a tough time navigating Bennu’s rough terrain. But NASA assured reporters Tuesday that it is up to the challenge.

“The first three months of OSIRIS-REx’s up-close investigation of Bennu have reminded us what discovery is all about — surprises, quick thinking and flexibility,” said Lori Glaze, acting director of NASA’s planetary science division.

The New Horizons spacecraft is already speeding away from MU69, an inhabitant of a dark and distant region called the Kuiper belt that surrounds the solar system beyond Neptune. The probe is now so far from Earth it takes more than six hours for signals from the spacecraft to reach scientists on the ground.

But as data trickled down to Earth in the months since New Horizon’s historic flyby, scientists have slowly built a picture of the most distant body ever explored.

Its oddball shape suggests it was formed from two smaller bodies that danced around one another in a shared orbit, getting closer and closer until they gently fused together. The entire collision would have been about as forceful as a human briskly walking into a wall, McKinnon said.

In a solar system where many objects were born out of catastrophic cataclysms, this gentle formation process is intriguing, he added. It lends support for a theory in which the building blocks of planets slowly coalesce out of rotating clouds of pebbles, McKinnon said. This would also explain the orientation of MU69′s two lobes, which appear to have been placed beside each other, rather than haphazardly smushed together.

It will take many more months to retrieve all the data collected during New Horizons’ brief encounter at MU69, and years to understand what it all means. Scientists still aren’t sure what made the larger of the body’s two lobes so flat; it looks as though a giant alien sat on it.

“It’s quite a spectacular object,” said the mission’s principal investigator Alan Stern. “It caught us by surprise.”

Amazon’s gamble on finding 1,500 worker for robotic warehouse in Thornton may not have been a gamble after all

1 hour 13 min ago

After turning the heads of countless drivers on Interstate 25 while its massive walls went up, Amazon’s four-story, 855,000-square-foot Thornton fulfillment center finally opened last summer, shipping its first order in August.

While it surely delighted Thornton officials, Amazon’s call for more than 1,500 workers to staff the robot-aided distribution warehouse likely also raised a few skeptical eyebrows around the Denver area. After all, Colorado’s unemployment rate hasn’t been above 4 percent since 2015 and with entry-level jobs at the Thornton center offering starting pay of $12.50 last summer, Amazon wasn’t exactly blowing the market away on wages.

Eight months on, the big fulfillment center at East 144th Avenue and I-25 known among Amazon workers as DEN3 is humming along, sorting, packing and shipping hundreds of thousands of orders daily. The company reached full staffing there during its “peak season” of November and December (a timeline that coincided with the establishment of an across-the-company $15-per-hour minimum wage) and could be looking to grow the labor force further as order volume there grows, officials said.

Regardless of what a baseline unemployment number might say, there is evidence the Denver market will continue to produce the workers Amazon and other warehouse-based businesses need to keep growing their operations.

“The whole name of the game is getting the product to the customer in the quickest, most cost-effective way based on shipping costs,” Clint Autry, general manager of the Thornton fulfillment center, said on a tour Tuesday.

RELATED: Symbia Logistics in Aurora offers alternative for retailers who don’t fit the Amazon box

Since August, his facility has shipped orders all over the continental U.S. including New York and Florida. Most of the deliveries though go to closer-by locations like Las Vegas and California — if they’re not staying in Colorado, that is.

Autry has worked for Amazon for seven years opening a handful of facilities and working at the company’s first robotics-aided warehouse in Tampa Bay, Fla. He even helped test the radio-wave emitting vests workers wear when they have to step out among the highway network of “drive unit” robots that transports big tubs of merchandise around the cavernous facility at up to 17 mph.

Far from taking jobs from human workers, Autry believes the drive units and other robotic systems in use in Thornton will help create jobs.

“Efficiency goes up, orders go up,” he said. “As the customer demand comes, we’re gonna be hiring.”

Once employees cross the threshold into the noisy warehouse, Amazon has a variety of mechanisms aimed at keeping them in the company long-term if they want to stay. They include benefits that start on Day 1 and a “career choice” program that will pay 95 percent of an employee’s tuition for select educational pursuits. In the next few months, the Thornton facility will start offering employees commercial driver’s license and information technology classes.

“That’s the Amazon approach,” Autry said. “We want to hire people and grow them from within.”

The Thornton facility on Tuesday was stocked with workers who came from other markets pursuing advancement within the company. There was Connie McAllister, the training associate who moved from Kentucky; Zak Kupfer, the merchandise sorter and stower from Milwaukee; and Mike May, the California native who came to the facility to take a higher-level role in the “picking” department tasked with grabbing items from the building’s inventory to fill orders.

“There is a lot of opportunity at Amazon,” Mays said.

Related Articles

Amazon officials did not have a firm number on how many of the Thornton center’s employees came from other markets, but data suggests the company should have no problem continuing to grow in the north metro area.

A study put together last year by real estate services firm CBRE tabbed Denver as the fourth fastest growing “tier 2” market for transportation and warehouse workers in the country. The study found Denver’s population of workers in those logistics fields grew by 20.6 percent — or about 9,550 workers — between 2013-17. With Denver continuing to draw new residents from elsewhere, and CBRE projecting the north metro area will bear the brunt of that growth, there is reason to believe Thornton and points around it will be a hotbed for warehouse and logistics expansion in the coming years.

“Increasingly, development of e-commerce warehouses is contingent not only on close proximity to large customer populations but also on finding increasingly scarce labor,” David Egan, CBRE’s global head of industrial and logistics research, said in a news release last year. “Several markets, especially those with strong population growth, offer ideal conditions for staffing up distribution centers.”

Denver weather: Metro area likely having its coldest March in decades

1 hour 14 min ago

March in Denver is known for big snow storms, rapidly changing weather and, usually, an early taste of spring-like warmth.

But it’s usually not known for the persistent, bitter cold that’s enveloped the region all month long.

With an average temperature of 29.7 degrees through Monday, Denver was running more than nine degrees below average for the month, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder. Fourteen of 18 days this month have featured below average temperatures, including seven days at least 11 degrees below average.

If March were only 18 days long, the average monthly temperature of 29.7 degrees would tie Denver’s fourth-coldest March on record (1906). The coldest March on record in Denver was 26.4 degrees set in 1912. But since March runs 31 days, there are another 13 days for the mercury to recover, and we’ll see some non-winter jacket weather — finally — later this week.

RELATED: “Oh it was bad.” Denver digs out after bomb cyclone blizzard

A big warm-up is in store for the area later this week, and that’ll help bump up the average March temperature. Temperatures are forecast to rocket into the upper 50s by Thursday, a tick above seasonable levels. The rest of the month looks fairly mild, though a possible pattern change early next week may bring another shot of colder air.

Even with the warm-up, though, this month may well end up being the city’s coldest March in several decades. No March in the last 50 years has finished with an average monthly temperature below 33.5 degrees, a figure that looks in jeopardy considering just how cold the first half of the month has been.

An Arctic blast of cold air that moved through the first week of the month, coupled with the cold temperatures from last week’s bomb cyclone, have combined to keep Denver bitterly cold this March.

Chris Bianchi is a meteorologist for WeatherNation TV.

Denver’s average high for Tuesday, the final full day of winter, is 56 degrees.

The Denver Post needs your support.
Subscribe now for just 99 cents for the first month.

Death penalty repeal bill divides Colorado district attorneys — the very people who choose whether to pursue execution

1 hour 14 min ago

The 22 Coloradans who decide whether a person should face the possibility of execution are divided on nearly every aspect of the death penalty and whether state lawmakers should end the practice.

District attorneys across the state disagree on whether the death penalty is effective, how it should be used — if at all — and how the state should decide whether to repeal it. At least three elected prosecutors support a bill to end execution in the state, enough of a shift from a decade ago that the statewide district attorneys’ council no longer takes a stance on the issue.

The district attorneys’ debate comes as the state legislature considers a bill that would repeal the death penalty in Colorado. The Senate will vote as soon as Wednesday on the bill; the House has not yet considered it.

At the crux of the divide, district attorneys disagree on whether the possibility of the death penalty is necessary to facilitate plea deals on potential capital cases and avoid lengthy, costly murder trials. Without the death penalty, more defendants will be able to plead to second-degree murder, district attorneys who oppose repeal warned, though they clarified that they wouldn’t seek death in a case that didn’t merit it simply to obtain a plea.

“Without this tool that we have at our disposal right now, reserved for the worst of the worst, those pleas simply don’t happen,” said Republican Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke, citing the recent case of a Frederick man who pleaded guilty to murdering his family to avoid the death penalty. “Chris Watts doesn’t have an incentive at that point.”

RELATED: John Hickenlooper: “I made the hardest decision” on execution

RJ Sangosti, The Denver PostMichael J. Rourke, District Attorney for Weld County, listens to the judge during Christopher Watts’ arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on Aug. 21, 2018 in Greeley.

The vast majority of all criminal cases are resolved by plea deals, including murder cases, said District Attorney Dave Young, a Democrat who represents Adams and Broomfield counties and opposes the repeal. He is pursuing the death penalty against a man charged with killing Adams County sheriff’s Deputy Heath Gumm.

“We would not be able to do that without leverage,” he said. “The whole legal system is based on leverage — not just criminal cases.”

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann disputed that analysis and said convictions shouldn’t rely on the prospect of the death penalty, but instead on the strength of the evidence in the case. McCann has said publicly that she will not seek the death penalty in any case because she morally opposes it, and she has said the decision has not affected her ability to convict.

“I really don’t view it as a bargaining chip, if you will,” McCann said in an interview.

Research on the effect the death penalty has on plea bargains is relatively sparse.

One 1995 study of cases in New York found that the threat of execution did not increase defendants’ likelihood of pleading guilty but did convince them to agree to harsher punishments. A 2013 study of cases in Georgia found that the death penalty slightly decreases the probability that a case will go to trial but did not save the state money.

Ten years ago, the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council lobbied against an attempt to end the death penalty. For the last decade, however, the council representing the state’s 22 district attorneys has not taken a position on attempts to end the death penalty because there is no longer a super majority who agree, said Tom Raynes, the council’s executive director.

“We have not had that level of agreement on the death penalty since I have been here,” said Raynes, who started at the council in 2010.

Three Democratic district attorneys — McCann, Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty, and Bruce Brown, who represents Summit, Lake, Eagle and Clear Creek counties — told The Denver Post or have publicly stated that they oppose the death penalty. Eight have said they support the death penalty, and the remaining did not respond before deadline for a request for comment on the issue. About 60 percent of the district attorneys are Republicans.

Nationally, district attorneys often are split along rural and urban lines about the future of the death penalty, said David LaBahn, president and CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. Those who represent suburban areas with little crime tend to support the death penalty because murders there often garner more attention and deeply disturb the community’s sense of safety.

“Most everyone who has touched death penalty cases don’t do it with a zest and a zeal,” he said. “It’s an incredible amount of reluctance. Everything else we do is to protect people and restore life.”

Even among those district attorneys who oppose the death penalty, McCann stands out for her decision to not pursue the penalty in any case, LaBahn said. Many others who don’t believe in the death penalty believe they still must use it when applicable because it is the law.

“She is one of the few to flat-out say, ‘I know this is the law but I won’t do it,’ ” LaBahn said.

John Leyba, The Denver PostBeth McCann is sworn in Jan. 10, 2017 as Denver District Attorney at the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building.

McCann faced criticism for that decision from her peers in Colorado, who said they believe district attorneys have an ethical obligation to pursue the death penalty if it is appropriate because it is state law.

“When I raised my right hand to take an oath to uphold and defend Colorado’s laws, there was no asterisk there,” said Republican District Attorney George Brauchler, who represents Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties and opposes repeal.

McCann said the law grants her broad discretion to make that decision.

Related Articles

“If my constituents feel that we’re not prosecuting aggressively enough, that’s something they can decide at the voting booth,” she said.

The district attorneys who oppose the bill argued that the decision on the death penalty should not be made by the General Assembly and instead be put to a referendum vote of the entire state, which have been unsuccessful recently in other states.

Backpass: The rise of Rapids’ Dillon Serna

1 hour 14 min ago

To watch Dillon Serna is to witness a kind of frenetic precision. His movement is so quick, from his stutter steps to his step-overs and his changes of direction, that it sometimes feels like he’s been put into a turn-of-the-century silent film, moving at 1.5x speed, while everything else is still going at a medium pace.

Supporters of the Colorado Rapids have been telling everyone they could get a hold of “Hey! This Serna kid is good!” since he was signed to a homegrown contract in 2013, just after his freshman year at the University of Akron. Fans love him because of his classic local-boy-makes-good story, since Serna grew up in Brighton and played with the Rapids academy since he was in middle school. For years, fans saw flashes of his talent.

But Serna’s playing career in Colorado could best be characterized as “Dillon, interrupted” from 2014 through 2018, with inconsistent play, benchings and injuries (torn ACL, 2016).

And that brings us to this season. Edgar Castillo is gone after being deemed too pricey to bring back despite being the team’s best player and offensive fulcrum in 2018, leaving the Rapids with a vacancy at left back, a player tasked with bringing the ball up the field, being an offensive outlet, helping in the final third of the attack, and also coming back on defense to lock down his side of the field. Left back requires speed, endurance, precision, acumen, and vision.

RELATED: Rapids settle for a tie after late goal by Johnny Russell

And to start the season the Rapids had zero experienced players to fill the spot, which is why manager Anthony Hudson decided to roll the dice and give Serna the job. And, the preliminary results have been excellent.

Serna has provided above-average defending and fantastic passing, plus he has the ability to support the attack. In the snowy season-opener, he had an assist on the first goal, and it was his shot at the death that got deflected to the waiting instep of Andre Shinyashiki to nab a 3-3 draw. In the second match against Seattle, the team ran a lot of the offense through him as he contributed three key passes and five crosses. And this past Sunday against Sporting Kansas City, Serna was everywhere, doing everything.

The Rise of Dillon Serna, pt1. Serna serves an amazing ball to Mezquida on the half-volley at 12'.#COLvSKC #Rapids96

— Mark Asher Goodman (@soccer_rabbi) March 18, 2019

The Rise of Dillon Serna, pt2. This ball into Diego Rubio is long and direct and on-a-dime. Lotta clubs in this kid's bag – accurate long balls, saucy dribbles, emergency defending, pace, passing-and-moving. #COLvSKC #Rapids96

— Mark Asher Goodman (@soccer_rabbi) March 18, 2019

Rise of Serna, pt3. Perfect tackle, recovers the ball immediately. Sharp awareness. #COLvSKC #Rapids96

— Mark Asher Goodman (@soccer_rabbi) March 18, 2019

Statistically that added up to four tackles, two clearances, and one key pass. Serna’s role now as a fullback means that he will often be “the guy behind the guy,” helping to link up plays or stop the opposition in ways that won’t produce eye-popping league-MVP stats.

But advanced metrics tell us that Serna is a big contributor to the good things Colorado has produced. One such advanced statistic, Expected Buildup or “xB,” measures the degree to which a player that has passed the ball was involved in successful plays that produce high-quality shots. Serna’s xB of 1.6 puts him 10th in MLS amongst all fullbacks, and 2nd on the Rapids overall, indicating that he’s been one of the Rapids most important offensive weapons because of what he can offer in passes, crosses, and shots. The only Rapids player with a higher rating is Keegan Rosenberry, the fullback on the other side of the pitch, and a player with four years of MLS experience at the position.

It can be said that one of the biggest worries the Rapids had coming out of pre-season, the question of whether they had a viable first-rate left-back, has been suitably answered.

Related Articles

Serna looking like Edgar Castillo lite #Rapids96

— Justin Hein (@justin_hein) March 18, 2019

I know it's still really early in the season, but Serna could play himself into the National Team picture. If he has a really good season, I would not be shocked seeing him get a January camp call. #Rapids96

— RapidsForeignLegion (@CRForeignLegion) March 18, 2019

At last Serna has a clear role with the Rapids and is at full health. He turns 25 years old in a few days, putting him right in the sweet spot of when soccer players are at the peak of both athletic ability and technical skill. The man from Brighton with the perpetually bright future, may have finally become what fans have been waiting for for so long.

Reader support helps bring you quality local journalism like this. Please consider becoming a subscriber.
Your first month is only 99 cents.

Broncos’ Super Bowl LIV odds on the rise — again

1 hour 14 min ago

John Elway’s bold offseason additions have the Broncos rising among Super Bowl LIV contenders in the eyes of Las Vegas odds makers. But let’s not plan the parade through Civic Center Park quite yet.

Yes, the Broncos traded for QB Joe Flacco (Ravens) and signed DB Kareem Jackson (Texans), RT Ja’Wuan James and DB Bryce Callahan (Bears). Then suddenly, Bovada bumped Denver’s chances of winning the big game from 80-to-1, to 60-to-1, and as announced Monday, up to 50-to-1. All significant gains.

But even with improved odds, there are 21 NFL teams considered more likely to reach the Super Bowl, per Bovada, including all three AFC West opponents: Raiders 40-1, Chargers 16-1 and Chiefs 8-1. Proof that simply making the playoffs, where the Broncos haven’t been since 2016, would be an impressive achievement in itself.

So, place your bets if feeling optimistic, Broncos Country. The start of football season in just six months away.

Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post

Larimer Square owner vows not to demolish historic buildings on storied Denver block

1 hour 14 min ago

Less than a month after opening a “community center” on the block to hear people’s hopes and concerns for the future of Larimer Square, the property’s owner has announced none of the historic buildings there will be demolished.

Jeff Hermanson, Larimer Square’s owner for the past 26 years, and his development partners with Denver firm Urban Villages have held fast to the position that new development along the historically protected 1400 block of Larimer Street is essential to keeping the aging buildings there functional and accessible into the future. The birthplace of Denver in the 1850s, the block today is home to posh shops, restaurants and offices.

Though redevelopment plans released by Hermanson’s group last winter called for alterations to some of the 19th-century buildings, on Tuesday the team declared they will not be knocking down anything historic as part of an effort to design and build new structures on the square.

“We’ve always been focused on retaining the block’s historic integrity,” Hermanson said in an emailed statement. “The best avenue forward is to avoid demolition of historic buildings.”

The announcement comes amid an ongoing public outreach effort on the square. After running into vocal opposition to their initial proposal to build two tall buildings in the opposing alleys on the block, Hermanson and Urban Villages last year convened an advisory group of historic preservation advocates, community leaders and neighborhood residents to talk over the block’s condition, maintenance needs and potential plans for the future.

Some of the participants in that group expressed frustration about how the meetings were conducted, but Hermanson and Urban Villages last month opened a new front in their effort to gather input on their ideas: A drop-in community center at 1411 Larimer St. An online forum has also been launched at and a series of telephone “town hall” sessions allowing people to weigh in is being planned as well.

“From affordable housing, to converting the street to a public park, to school-based education programs, there is no shortage of ideas,” Jon Beurge, chief development officer for Urban Villages, said in a statement. “Our job now is to continue listening to what Denver wants and needs, and ultimately synthesize those ideas into a cohesive plan for the future of the block that poises it for the next 100 years while protecting its history.”
Related Articles

Talk about changing the square landed the property, protected by a city ordinance since 1971, on the National Trust for Historic Place’s list of most endangered historic places last summer. Local preservation advocates took Tuesday’s announcement as a positive sign Hermanson and Co. are listening to public concerns.

“Many members of the advisory committee convenes last year made it clear that seeking to demolish buildings in Larimer Square was a non-starter,” Annie Levinsky, executive director of Historic Denver, said in a text message Tuesday night. “They must be hearing similar reactions from neighbors and community members in their outreach.”

Debate over ending Colorado’s death penalty part of national conversation

1 hour 14 min ago

The death penalty has been declared all but dead in Colorado, where no one has been executed since 1997 or even been sentenced to death in a decade — including in horrific crimes such as the Aurora theater shooting and Christopher Watts’ murder of his wife and two young daughters.

Still, the visceral debate over capital punishment here — where the state Senate will take a key vote as soon as Wednesday on whether to take it off the table altogether — is part of a larger national conversation. Across the United States, but especially in the West, the death penalty is falling out of favor with prosecutors, juries, courts and state lawmakers from both parties.

Last year, in particular, was a watershed year as not one person was executed and only seven people were sentenced to death west of Texas — a 40-year low, according to an analysis of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit that advocates for reforming the death penalty system.

Abolition or major reforms of the death penalty have recently been debated in Wyoming, Oregon and Utah with mixed results. The Washington State Supreme Court last year ruled capital punishment unconstitutional. And California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order pausing all future executions.

A number of factors are contributing to states backing away from capital punishment, including cost and a lack of access to the drug cocktail needed to execute someone by lethal injection.

RELATED: John Hickenlooper: “I made the hardest decision” on execution

In addition, there have been increasing concerns that not everyone convicted of major crimes is actually guilty — the Innocence Project has used DNA evidence to exonerate 20 people on death row — and that it is disproportionately applied to nonwhites. A 2015 University of Denver study found that prosecutors in Colorado were more likely to seek the death penalty against black and Latino defendants than against white defendants.

“We see more and more people favor the death penalty in principle but not in practice,” said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the center. “The death penalty they favor is not in place. That’s been one of the major changes in the legislatures in the West.”

This week’s Senate floor debate and vote are crucial for supporters of repeal. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate, and positions on the death penalty don’t strictly follow party lines.

The last time Colorado Democrats made a serious attempt to abolish capital punishment was in 2013. When then-Gov. John Hickenlooper signaled he’d veto the bill making its way through the legislature, lawmakers spiked it.

Just two months later, after having a change of heart about the death penalty, the governor indefinitely stayed the execution of Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of murdering four of his former co-workers at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostConvicted killer Nathan Dunlap arrives back in court after a short recess during the hearing held at the Arapahoe County Court in Centennial on May 1, 2013.

Hickenlooper’s decision was met with extraordinary criticism. His executive order can only be overturned by another governor, something Gov. Jared Polis is not inclined to do. And the two other men on death row — Sir Mario Owens and Robert Ray, who were convicted in the 2005 murders of Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe — are in the midst of appeals and their executions have not been scheduled yet.

More recently, juries have declined to sentence even the most heinous criminals to death, including James Holmes, who killed 12 people at an Aurora theater, and Dexter Lewis, who stabbed five people to death at a Denver bar. And last year, Weld County prosecutors made a plea deal to give Watts, who last year killed his wife and two children, life in prison.

Public support for the death penalty also has dropped significantly since it peaked at 80 percent in 1994, according to Gallup. However, a small majority of Americans — 56 percent — still favor it for people convicted of murder.

There is a wide partisan gap. According to Pew Research, 77 percent of Republicans in 2018 supported the death penalty, while only 35 percent of Democrats did. Fifty-two percent of unaffiliated voters support capital punishment.

“There’s a difference between popular opinion and those tasked with carrying out capital punishment,” said Amber Widgery, a senior policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, which monitors policy trends across the states. “With mounting cost and logistical difficulties, lawmakers are taking a hard look and asking themselves if they can sustain this.”

Nebraska is a case study in the split between policymakers and the public. In 2015, state lawmakers voted to repeal capital punishment, but the next year voters restored the death penalty at the ballot box. The rebuke of lawmakers was financed in large part by the state’s wealthy Republican governor and his family.

Robert Blecker, a professor of criminal law and constitutional history at New York Law School, said he worries that abolition of the death penalty is part of a larger problem: the erosion of punishment.

Related Articles

“Punishment itself is dying,” he said. “The question is, if we abolish the death penalty, do we diminish justice?”

Blecker, who believes the death penalty should be reserved for “the worst of the worst of the worst,” has spent thousands of hours researching and interviewing criminals who live on death row as well as those who have been given life without the chance of parole. His findings suggest that the punishment handed down rarely matches the scope of the crime.

“Some people deserve to die, and we have a moral obligation to execute them,” he said, adding that juries should need to decide capital cases using a much higher threshold than “beyond a reasonable doubt” of guilt.

If the Colorado legislation to repeal the death penalty makes it through the Senate, the state House will take up the bill next. The lower chamber is considered far more liberal than the Senate, and the bill is all but ensured passage there. Polis has also pledged to sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

Who is on Colorado’s death row?

1 hour 14 min ago

Three men await execution at the Colorado State Penitentiary while the state’s political figures debate the future of the death penalty in Colorado.

Nathan Dunlap

Dunlap, 44, was sentenced to death after he was convicted in 1993 of eight counts of first-degree murder for shootings at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora. Dunlap was 19 when he gunned down employees, who were closing the business for the night.

His victims: Ben Grant, 17; Sylvia Crowell, 19; Colleen O’Connor, 17; and Margaret Kohlbert, 50, died in the shootings. Bobby Stephens survived his gunshot wounds.

His status: Gov. John Hickenlooper granted “temporary reprieve” to Dunlap in 2013, meaning the execution most likely would not happen during Hickenlooper’s tenure. Hickenlooper completed his last term in January, and new Gov. Jared Polis has shown no intention of lifting the reprieve.

Robert K. Ray

Ray, 33, was the mastermind behind the 2005 execution of two people who were going to testify against him in another murder trial in Arapahoe County. Ray had shot and killed Gregory Vann, 20, during a 2004 party at Lowry Park, and he ordered the shooting of a couple who were witnesses in that case.

Related Articles

His victims: Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe, both 22. They were engaged.

His status: His case is in the appeals process, which is mandated by Colorado law.

Sir Mario Owens

Owens, 34, was sentenced to death in the same case as Ray. He first was convicted of murder in 2007 in the death of Vann. The next year, he was convicted in the killings of Marshall-Fields and Wolfe, both 22, as they were driving on an Aurora street.

His victims: Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe.

His status: His appeals are pending.

Mozambique mourns as Cyclone Idai’s death toll rises above 300

1 hour 17 min ago

CHIPINGE, Zimbabwe — Mozambique on Wednesday began three days of national mourning for more than 200 victims of Cyclone Idai, one of the most destructive storms southern Africa has experienced in decades. In neighboring Zimbabwe, state media said the death toll was above 100.

The full extent of the devastation will only be known once floodwaters from torrential rains, expected to continue into Thursday, recede. It will be days before Mozambique’s inundated plains drain toward the Indian Ocean, and aid groups have warned the waters are still rising.

People have been reported clinging to rooftops and trees since the cyclone roared in over the weekend. The United Nations humanitarian office said the town of Buzi, with some 200,000 people, was at risk of becoming at least partially submerged.

“Flood waters are predicted to rise significantly in the coming days and 350,000 people are at risk,” the U.N. office said.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa received a somber welcome in the hard-hit mountain community of Chimanimani near the border with Mozambique. Zimbabwean officials have said some 350 people may have died.

Some bodies from Zimbabwe have been swept down the mountainside into Mozambique. “Some of the peasants in Mozambique were calling some of our people to say, ‘We see bodies, we believe those bodies are coming from Zimbabwe,'” said July Moyo, the minister of local government.

Mozambique’s president late Tuesday said more than 200 people were confirmed dead there. President Filipe Nyusi after flying over the affected region on Monday said he expected more than 1,000 deaths.

Aid workers were shocked as they arrived in the badly hit Mozambique port city of Beira, estimated to be 90 percent destroyed. Its 500,000 residents are scrambling for food, fuel and medicine. Some neighborhoods are below sea level.

“The power of the cyclone is visible everywhere with shipping containers moved like little Lego blocks,” the aid group CARE’s Mozambique country director Marc Nosbach said.

International aid has started trickling in to ease the crisis, while churches in Zimbabwe collected supplies to send on.

“Everyone is doubling, tripling, quadrupling whatever they were planning” in terms of aid, said Caroline Haga of the Red Cross in Beira. “It’s much larger than anyone could ever anticipate.”

On Wednesday, the Emirates News Agency cited the Emirates Red Crescent as saying that the United Arab Emirates would provide 18.3 million dirhams ($4.9 million) to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Zimbabwe’s president said a planeload of aid from the UAE was expected to arrive in the capital, Harare, later Wednesday.

The chairman of the African Union Commission said the continental body would provide $350,000 in immediate support to the countries.

The European Union has released 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) in emergency aid, and the United Kingdom pledged up to 6 million pounds ($7.9 million). Tanzania’s military has airlifted 238 tons of food and medicine, and three Indian naval ships have been diverted to Beira to help with evacuations of stranded people and other efforts.

Sacha Myers of the nonprofit Save the Children described rising floodwaters and “rivers and dams bursting their banks.” She said getting aid to affected areas was difficult as roads and bridges across the region have been washed away or submerged.

Now hunger and illness are growing concerns. Crops across the region have been destroyed. Waterborne diseases are likely to spread.

“There are large areas where people are really finding it difficult to find sources of clean water,” Gert Verdonck, the emergency coordinator with Doctors Without Borders in Beira, said in a statement. He added: “On top of all of that, there’s the issue of how to treat people who fall sick_with so many health centers damaged or destroyed.”

Associated Press writers Andrew Meldrum and Cara Anna in Johannesburg and Matt Sedensky in New York contributed.

Boulder council supports shift in focus of services for long-term residents

1 hour 30 min ago

Boulder City Council on Tuesday heard updates on the first full year of data from the coordinated entry program for people experiencing homelessness, and council members voted unanimously to support recommended changes to the system.

Council voted for a motion to support Homeless Solutions for Boulder County’s recommended adjustments to the adult homeless services system, though they expressed some concerns. The system was created in October 2017 to coordinate efforts around the county. Beyond city staff, more than 20 other organizations were involved.

Related Articles

The coordinated entry screening process assesses a person’s connection to the county, their history of homelessness and any additional needs they might have. During the first year of the new system — October 2017 to September — 2,448 people sought services in the county, and 383, or about 15.6 percent, of them successfully exited the system for stable housing.

Of those 383, 188 moved into housing of their own, 145 were reunified with family members or others, and 50 moved to other programs, such as Ready to Work, according to data in a memo to council. Of the $3.45 million spent in the county, 75.3 percent of it was spent on housing-focused shelter, navigation services and severe weather sheltering, according to the memo.

The county system’s executive board approved recommendations to increase focus countywide on housing for longer-term residents and decrease focus on services for people who have lived in the area less than six months.

Read the full story at

Ask Amy: Parents hit their child up for financial bailout

2 hours 44 min ago

Dear Amy: Over the last 30 years, my father, a salesman who bounced between “commission only” jobs, has regularly borrowed money from family and friends.

This has resulted in defunct friendships and family disputes due to his inability to pay these loans back.

The most disheartening part is that he was using the money to afford a lifestyle for my mother that was never reasonable.

As they’ve grown older, they have been forced to give up some of the things that put them into financial hardship, including memberships to elite clubs and an overextended mortgage in a neighborhood they couldn’t afford.

Now in their 70s and living in an apartment, my father continues to work minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet. I don’t think he has ever been honest with my mother about their financial situation, and she is unaware that he owes money to so many people. She continues to spend because he is not honest with her.

My father continues to ask me for money. I wrote off what I have lent him over the years long ago, but with a family of my own to support I can no longer “write off” anything.

I recently told him I can no longer lend him money. I carry so much guilt for the years he supported me while I was growing up and feel like I’m failing him by not supporting him now.

How can I help him understand that he needs help budgeting and should be communicating with my mother? I fear that my mom will make his life miserable if she finds out the truth.

— Not a Loan Officer

Dear Not a Loan: I hope you don’t actually believe that you owe your father money now because he “supported you” while you were growing up.

You were a child! You repay your folks by paying it forward and by supporting your own children.

Related Articles

Of course, adult children should try to assist their elderly parents, but so far, your assistance in the form of unrepaid “loans” has only enabled your parents to live a lie. This has harmed your relationships — and theirs.

Your mother might have some awareness of your father’s financial chicanery. At this stage you should meet with them, together, in order to discuss next steps for them. What if one of them becomes ill or incapacitated? What are their intentions for the later stages of their lives? Realistically, what is your ability to assist them?

Living a lie will always backfire. You can help them try to pick up the pieces.

Approach them with a loving and open attitude.

Dear Amy: I’ve been best friends with “Sam” for seven years now. We’ve always had a great friendship and have always been close. Unfortunately, her husband and I don’t get along.

I look past that for the sake of our friendship. About a year ago, Sam, her husband and her child invited me to share an apartment. Everything went well for the most part. I avoid her husband, so there is no conflict. I usually spend a lot of time at work or in my room.

A few days ago, Sam’s husband and I got into an argument. Sam decided to take her husband’s side. And without speaking to me she gave our landlord her notice to move.

So now she’s leaving me in a situation, because I can’t afford to stay here alone.

She doesn’t understand why I’m upset. We haven’t spoken in almost a week. I don’t want this to end our friendship!


— Home Alone

Dear Home Alone: You must face the fact that spouses most often back each other up. Sometimes this means even sacrificing a friendship. “Sam” may have seen the writing on the wall, or her husband may have pressured her to move out.

You’ll need to find other roommates. Speaking optimistically, if you find compatible people to live with, you won’t have to hide in your room. With some distance, your friendship may revive.

Dear Amy: Thank you for your response to “Furious Neighbor,” who was considering withdrawing from her neighbor’s life over an incendiary Facebook post. Here’s the line I love: “But should you continue to be a respectful and helpful neighbor to her? Yes, you should. Your behavior should reflect who you are, not who she is.”

— Impressed

Dear Impressed: The high volume of negative responses to my answer didn’t seem to allow for that particular thought. Ultimately, we should all seek ways to reconcile. Thank you for noticing.

Tyler Bey’s 16th double-double, D’Shawn Schwartz power CU into 2nd round of NIT

8 hours 2 min ago

BOULDER — The Buffaloes’ defense wasn’t in March form. But D’Shawn Schwartz sure as heck was.

Schwartz drained a personal-best five treys — on just eight attempts — and netted 19 points to lead Colorado to a 78-73 win over Dayton in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament late Tuesday night at the CU Events Center.

CU swingman Tyler Bey finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, his 16th double-double of the season, despite suffering what appeared to be a left leg injury midway through the second half. The Las Vegas native ran to the locker room a short while later but returned to the contest with 5:23 left and with the hosts clinging to a 66-63 lead. All-league guard McKinley Wright chipped in 19 points and five assists.

The Buffs (22-12), seeded fourth in its quadrant, will next face the winner of the Wednesday tussle between the top seed Alabama (18-15) and eighth-seeded Norfolk State (21-13) in the NIT’s second round. The better seed in the early rounds of the tourney receives home-court advantage, so CU might have at least one more contest at Regent Drive this month.

Freshman forward Obi Toppin dropped 21 points for the Flyers (21-11), who became the first team to shoot better than 50 percent as a group against the Buffs since Stanford back on Jan. 26. The Cardinal converted 55.1 percent of its attempts at home in a 75-62 CU loss.

The defense that had carried the Buffs through the final kick of the Pac-12 Conference slate and to the semifinals of the league tournament — CU had won 10 of its last 13 going into the NIT — was nowhere to be found early.

The Flyers converted a slew of easy lay-ups behind the Buffaloes’ defense in the game’s first 25 minutes, draining 15 of their first 25 attempts (60 percent) and 20 of their first 32 (62.5) percent. Dayton forward Josh Cunningham’s layup with 14:39 left in the game put the visitors up 50-43 and capped a 15-6 run coming out of the halftime break.

CU had finished the first half strong, despite enforcer Evan Battey sitting the final 10 minutes of the period with two fouls. With CU going from small to smaller, a 3-pointer by Schwartz and a steal and layup by Wright had trimmed the Flyers lead to 23-20. Schwartz drained his second trey of the half from the left wing with 4:26 left in the period to knot the contest at 30-30.

The hosts closed the half on a 14-5 run and took a 37-35 lead into the break, with sophomore forward Alexander Strating accounting for seven of those points. The 6-7 Dutchman drained a free throw at the 3:04 mark gave the Buffs their first lead — 31-30 — since five minutes into the game, and a tip-in off his own miss 40 seconds later pushed the home cushion to three points.

The Buffs seemed to gain some momentum after a see-saw first five minutes as Wright’s trey with 14:46 to go in the first period gave the hosts an 11-9 edge. But the Flyers shifted gears after that, pushing the tempo and stringing together an 11-2 run over the next two-and-a-half minutes.

Rockies Recap: German Marquez, lacking command, blasted in loss to Angels

8 hours 10 min ago

Angels 9, Rockies 7
Tuesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

On the mound: Right-hander German Marquez had a humbling night. The Angels pounded him for eight runs on 10 hits over 4 ⅓ innings. Justin Upton hit a solo home run off Marquez in the third and Taylor Ward launched a three-run shot later in the inning. Marquez said it was just a bad night and he’ll forget it and move on. Manager Bud Black said Marquez left too many pitches over the heart of the plate and never commanded his breaking ball. Black said Marquez has corrections to make in his next bullpen session. … Righty relievers Seunghwan Oh and Bryan Shaw, both shaky early in spring, have settled in nicely. Both tossed scoreless innings vs. the Angels.

Related Articles

At the plate: Catcher Tony Wolters, in a battle to make the 25-man roster, had a good night, hitting a solo home run and an RBI single. … Daniel Murphy, heating up as spring winds down, rocketed a home run to right field in the first, his second dinger of the Cactus League. … Nolan Arenado lifted his spring average to .302 with a double and a single.

Worth noting: Raimel Tapia (2-for-4) made an excellent catch against the left-field wall in the third, robbing Andrelton Simmons of extra bases. Tapia, pegged as the fourth outfielder, has shown up well defensively this spring.

Up next: Royals (14-12) at Rockies (11-13-2), 7:40 p.m., MDT, Salt River Fields

Starting pitchers: Royals RHP Jorge Lopez vs. Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson

Man who stabbed woman jogger in Avon gets 20-year prison sentence

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 22:52

A man who stabbed a woman jogger multiple times in Avon has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Randy Wyrick, Vail DailyWhile a local physician was treating Andrew Young, he told her that he had stabbed an Avon woman. He stabbed her so hard he broke the knife, he said.

Andrew Michael Young, 19, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty on Feb. 25 to first-degree assault causing serious bodily injury, according to the Eagle County District Attorney’s Office.

The attack happened on May 31, 2018, as the victim was running on a bike path behind the Westin Riverfront Resort. Young attacked the woman with a knife, stabbing her multiple times in the head and torso.

“The horrific nature of this crime is overcome by the tremendous bravery exhibited by the survivor in recounting her nightmare to police and standing up to the defendant today in Court,” District Attorney Bruce Brown said in a news release.

The victim, who was taken to a local hospital after the attack, is still recovering from the injuries.

Related Articles

Floodwaters in Midwest threaten millions in crop, livestock losses

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 22:40

DES MOINES, Iowa — Farmer Jeff Jorgenson looks out over 750 acres of cropland submerged beneath the swollen Missouri River, and he knows he probably won’t plant this year.

But that’s not his biggest worry. He and other farmers have worked until midnight for days to move grain, equipment and fuel barrels away from the floodwaters fed by heavy rain and snowmelt. The rising water that has damaged hundreds of homes and been blamed for three deaths has also taken a heavy toll on agriculture, inundating thousands of acres, threatening stockpiled grain and killing livestock.

In Fremont County alone, Jorgenson estimates that more than a million bushels of corn and nearly half a million bushels of soybeans have been lost after water overwhelmed grain bins before they could be emptied of last year’s crop. His calculation using local grain prices puts the financial loss at more than $7 million in grain alone. That’s for about 28 farmers in his immediate area, he said.

Once it’s deposited in bins, grain is not insured, so it’s just lost money. This year, farmers have stored much more grain than normal because of a large crop last year and fewer markets in which to sell soybeans because of a trade dispute with China.

“The economy in agriculture is not very good right now. It will end some of these folks farming, family legacies, family farms,” he said. “There will be farmers that will be dealing with so much of a negative they won’t be able to tolerate it.”

Jorgenson, 43, who has farmed since 1998, reached out to friends Saturday, and they helped him move his grain out of bins to an elevator. Had they not acted, he would have lost $135,000.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has declared a disaster in 41 of Iowa’s 99 counties, said she planned to press Vice President Mike Pence for a federal disaster declaration during his stops in Omaha to tour flooded areas along the Missouri River.

“It will be helpful for him to see it. I’ve reached out, and we’ve told him it’s catastrophic,” she said.

Pence said the Trump administration would expedite presidential disaster declarations for Nebraska and Iowa. He said he spoke to the governors of both states shortly after arriving to assure them federal aid will soon be on the way.

The flooding is expected to continue throughout the week in several states as high water flows down the Missouri River. Swollen rivers have already breached more than a dozen levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The flooding, which started after a massive late-winter storm last week, has also put some hog farms in southwest Iowa underwater. The dead animals inside must be disposed of, Reynolds said.

The water rose so quickly that farmers in many areas had no time to get animals out, said Chad Hart, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.

“Places that haven’t seen animal loss have seen a lot of animal stress. That means they’re not gaining weight and won’t be marketed in as timely a manner, which results in additional cost,” he said.

In all, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson estimated $400 million of crop losses from fields left unplanted or planted late and up to $500 million in livestock losses.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts said there have been deadlier disasters in Nebraska but never one as widespread. He said 65 of the state’s 93 counties are under emergency declarations.

In neighboring Missouri, water was just shy of getting into Ryonee McCann’s home along a recreational lake in Holt County, where about 40,000 acres and hundreds of homes have been flooded. She said her home sits on an 8-foot foundation.

“We have no control over it,” the 38-year-old said. “We just have to wait for the water to recede. It’s upsetting because everything you have worked for is there.”

The Missouri River was forecast to crest Thursday morning at 11.6 feet above flood stage in St. Joseph, Mo., which would be the third highest crest on record. More than 100 roads are closed in the state, including a growing section of Interstate 29.

Leaders of the small northwestern Missouri town of Craig ordered an evacuation. The Holt County Sheriff’s Department said residents who choose to stay must go to City Hall to provide their name and address in case they need to be rescued.

In nearby Atchison County, Mo., floodwaters knocked out a larger section of an already busted levee overnight, making the village of Watson unreachable, said Mark Manchester, the county’s deputy director of emergency management/911.

Related Articles

Officials believe everyone got out before thousands of more acres were flooded. But so many roads are now closed that some residents must travel more than 100 miles out of their way to get to their jobs at the Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska, he said.

“It’s a lot harder for people to get around,” Manchester said.

River flooding has also surrounded a northern Illinois neighborhood with water, prompting residents to escape in boats. People living in the Illinois village of Roscoe say children have walked through floodwaters or kayaked to catch school buses.

Flooding along rivers in western Michigan has damaged dozens of homes and businesses.

Avalanche stay in playoff hunt with 3-1 win over Wild

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 22:26

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Philipp Grubauer made 36 saves to lift the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-1 win over the Wild on Tuesday night in a game that had playoff implications in Minnesota and elsewhere.

Tyson Barrie, Tyson Jost and Ian Cole scored for Colorado, which won its second straight game.

Minnesota remained one point behind the idle Arizona Coyotes for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, while the Avalanche got within one point of the Wild and two of Arizona. Colorado also has a game in hand on Minnesota.

The result also clinched a playoff berth for the San Jose Sharks, who are second in the Western Conference.

Zach Parise scored and Devan Dubnyk stopped 35 shots for Minnesota.

Colorado struck first with a tally by Barrie, his third goal in his last two games. Barrie fired a centering pass from Carl Soderberg to beat Dubnyk with 14:57 left in the first period.

The Wild evened things early in the second period on a power play. Parise deflected a shot from Ryan Suter that slipped past Grubauer 1:52 into the period. It was Parise’s team-leading 26th goal of the season.

The Avalanche appeared to take a 2-1 lead midway through the second on a wraparound goal by Colin Wilson. But the goal was waved off for goaltender interference after Minnesota challenged the play.

Colorado went ahead minutes later when Jost found space on a breakaway and fired a backhand shot past Dubnyk. It was Jost’s first goal in 10 games and his fourth since being recalled from the minors in mid-February.

Minnesota had several chances to tie the game in the second, including a few looks by Jason Zucker. The Wild forward missed a wide-open net on a backhander and had another shot just miss the net as it slid through the crease.

Grubauer made perhaps his best save of the night with just over eight minutes to play in the third period. The Avs goalie blanked Minnesota’s Pontus Aberg to preserve Colorado’s lead.

Cole added an empty netter with 1:54 remaining after Minnesota pulled Dubnyk.

Related Articles

NOTES: The Wild signed G Mat Robson and F Alexander Khovanov to entry-level contracts. Khovanov was Minnesota’s third-round draft pick in 2018. Robson, a free agent, finished his junior season at the University of Minnesota. … Colorado’s Matt Calvert and Minnesota’s J.T. Brown dropped the gloves for a second-period fight. … Both teams won two games in four total meetings this season.


Avalanche: At Dallas on Thursday night.

Wild: At Washington on Friday night.

Former staffer at Horizon High School accused of sex assault of special needs student

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 22:24
via Denver7Michele Flynn

A former staffer at Thornton’s Horizon High School has been arrested on suspicion of having sex with a 17-year-old special needs student.

Michele Lea Flynn, 45, was taken into custody Monday night in Central Point, Ore., according to the Adams County District Attorney’s Office.

Flynn is awaiting extradition to Colorado where she has been charged with one count of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, the DA’s office said in a news release.

Flynn, a former education paraprofessional at Horizon, is accused having sexual contact with the student between Dec. 26, 2018, and Feb. 22, 2019, the release said.

Related Articles

Carlos Gonzalez gets new start with Indians, thanks Rockies organization and fans

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 22:13

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Carlos Gonzalez’s career is laden with personal achievements — a batting title, three All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves.

He has earned the respect of teammates and opponents and the unwavering devotion of Colorado fans, who have spent the past decade cheering the outfielder known simply as “CarGo.”

But something is missing and Gonzalez thinks he might find it in Cleveland. The free agent signed a minor league contract on Tuesday with the Indians, who might have a starting outfield spot for him.

“Looking at the roster and the past of this organization, this was an easy decision,” Gonzalez said. “This is a team that not too long ago was playing in a World Series. As a baseball player, I think it is everybody’s dream to be at that stage, to play for a championship. I want to be in the position to be in that category. This lineup, the rotation, this bullpen is built for winning.”

A great baseball player and even better person, @CarGo5 says farewell.

— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) March 20, 2019

Gonzalez could help the Indians settle their outfield situation, which became muddled following the decision not to re-sign All-Star Michael Brantley and other offseason moves. Gonzalez said he also received an offer from the San Francisco Giants but chose Cleveland.

“I wanted to play in the American League,” he said. “The past two years, facing the American League pitchers was something I wanted to do. It doesn’t get tiring, obviously because you’re playing baseball. You’re playing what you love but I wanted a new beginning. When the opportunity opened that’s what I took. I decided between the Indians and the Giants. I decided to come here because this is what I wanted to do.”

The 33-year-old Gonzalez spent 10 seasons with Colorado and was one of the team’s best players and emotional leader. He left the Rockies after 2017 before re-signing with Colorado last March to a one-year contract, earning $8 million including roster bonuses.

If he makes Cleveland’s 40-man roster, Gonzalez will get a $2 million contract in the majors. He can earn $1 million more in bonuses. He can opt out of his contract on April 20.

“The way spring training was going this was a perfect fit for me,” he said. “I told my agent I really wanted to be on that squad. I told him if you get the opportunity to get me on board, I’m ready to go. I’m glad the opportunity came.”

A .287 career hitter with 231 home runs, Gonzalez was streaky last season, when he batted .276 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs. Gonzalez hit 40 homers in 2015, and he might be able to help Cleveland offset the loss of slugger Edwin Encarnacion.

Gonzalez’s peak years may be behind him, but he can provide the Indians with quality at-bats, postseason experience and leadership. He’ll likely begin the season at extended spring training so he can get into shape.

“We’re getting a pro,” manager Terry Francona said. “Everybody you talk to just loves him. Not just what he does with the bat. It is the way he carries himself. In my small interactions I’ve had with him, you can tell the way he carries himself.”

Related Articles

Gonzalez won the 2010 NL batting title (.336) and was an All-Star in 2012, 2013 and 2016. He has appeared in at least 200 games at all three outfield positions and has primarily played right field the past four seasons.

He’s thrilled to have a fresh start with a team capable of doing big things in 2019.

“As a baseball player you want to get things going,” he said. “Once the offseason comes and you hit free agency, you kind of want to know where you’re going to be next season, but free agency is obviously different than it was in the past. Last year it took me a long time to find a job. This year it took me a little longer. I made this decision. I can’t wait to get on the field with my teammates.”

NOTES: The Indians considered keeping rookie Orlando Mercado on their roster after his torrid spring, but sent him to Triple-A Columbus. Mercado batted .400 (16 of 40) with three homers and nine RBIs. “He had one heckuva camp and we just told him that,” Francona said. “It was to the point where we had conversations about taking him with us. In the end, the way we’re situated, playing once or twice a week in Cleveland in his first time in the big leagues, we didn’t think that was setting up for success.”