The Felony Murder Law of Colorado states that a person is guilty of first degree murder if he or she participates in, or is fleeing from, some other crime and a death results, intended or not2. This statute is the reason a 21 year old Colorado resident, Lisl Auman, was sentenced to life in prison without parole at the Colorado Women's Correctional Facility3. This case has drawn national attention and while appealing her conviction, has gained support from actors Sean Penn, Benecio Del Torro and Johnny Depp and the late writer Hunter S. Thompson.
Lisl Auman was convicted of felony murder for her part in an alleged burglary that resulted in the death of a Denver police officer on November 12, 19972. One week before the alleged burglary in Buffalo Creek, Colorado, Auman learned that her boyfriend, Shawn Cheever, decided to end the relationship. Auman still had a few possessions that remained at her ex-boyfriends residence that she wished to obtain. The night of November 11, 1997, Auman and her close friend Demetria Soriano, were at Soriano's apartment with her boyfriend, Dion Gerze, and his friends, Matthew Jaehnig and Stephen Duprey2. Claiming Cheever had mistreated her, Auman convinced her new friends to help her retrieve some of her belongings from Cheever's residence2.
At noon of the alleged day of the burglary, the group headed to Cheever's apartment and Auman rode alone with Jaehnig in his later found to be stolen Trans Am2. From the passenger's seat, a shotgun and two assault rifles were visible in the car. Cheever was at work during the alleged burglary, so bolt cutters were used to gain access to his residence. Auman's items were removed from the residence, along with some of Cheever's personal property. As this was occurring, other tenants noticed the items being removed from the apartment and called the police. After everything was loaded into the cars, Auman left with Jaehnig, separate from the rest of the group. Deputies, including officer VanderJagt, responding to the burglary call and pursued the Trans Am. A high speed chase ensued and Auman was instructed by Jaehnig to hold the wheel while he fired at the police cars with his assault rifle2. When the car reached Soriano's apartment complex, Auman and Jaehnig were trapped and Auman surrendered to police. She was immediately handcuffed and thrown in the back of the police car. Officer VanderJagt pursued Jaehnig and was shot in the head at point blank range and immediately killed. Jaehnig disappeared after a gun battle with police and later killed himself with VanderJagt's firearm2.
Lisl Auman was charged with first degree felony murder, attempted first degree murder, first degree assault, menacing, first degree burglary, second degree burglary, first degree criminal trespass conspiracy to commit first degree burglary3. All the charges brought against Auman are felonies, serious crimes punishable by more than a year in prison1. After being charged with...