Lisl Auman: Murderer?

I just read the article about the Lisl Auman case in Vanity Fair (which, as an aside, is perhaps the most web-challenged magazine in America). Auman is a young woman currently serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for a murder that was committed while she was in police custody.

For more detail, see the not-quite-as-challenged (though guys, ease up on the animated GIFs) site for her legal appeal ( or this Denver Post article by Ed Quillen: Lessons from Auman case.

For me, this story ends up being about slippery slopes, and the importance of having people running the system who are willing to draw the line somewhere short of perversions of justice like this. It’s somewhat like the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal: We start off with Bush declaring that prisoners captured in Afghanistan are “enemy combatants” without protection under the Geneva Conventions. Then, gradually, the desire to apply the same no-holds-barred approach spreads to the interrogation of Iraqis who clearly are covered by the Conventions.

So with Lisl Auman. Some bright politician decides that he can look tougher-on-crime-than-thou by pushing for a law that says if you are commiting felony burglary, and an accomplice kills someone in the course of that burglary, you can be charged with murder. And there’s a certain logic to that, but then we start tobogganing down the slippery slope, and end up sending a woman away for life for a crime she quite clearly didn’t commit.

I mean, where does it stop? Just because the authorities really, really want to punish someone, and the actual guilty party is already dead, doesn’t mean they get to grab whomever happens to be standing around and charge them instead.

The Auman case is currently before the Colorado State Supreme Court. Here’s hoping they fix this.

7 Responses to “Lisl Auman: Murderer?”

  1. alex Says:

    Via this logic, Adam and Eve have a hell of a lot to answer for.

  2. Aaron Says:

    You ask, “Just because the authorities really, really want to punish someone, and the actual guilty party is already dead, doesn’t mean they get to grab whomever happens to be standing around and charge them instead.”

    Often, it does. The Randall Adams atrocity in Texas, made (in)famous by the film “The Thin Blue Line”, apparently resulted from a prosecutor’s realization that he couldn’t score a death sentence if he went after the (obviously guilty) juvenile who actually committed the murder. Granted, the kid wasn’t dead, but….

    The statute at issue is an extension of the traditional “felony murder” statute – if you are engaged in a potentially dangerous felony (e.g., burglary) and somebody is killed, your intent to kill is inferred from your voluntary participation in the felony and you can thus be convicted of first degree murder. The Supreme Court ruled out execution for felony murder convictions, but all other sentences remain open.

    The usual controversy, prior to this case, was whether somebody could be charged with “felony murder” for the death of a co-felon. (e.g., the police shoot and kill a co-felon; can the other criminal(s) be charged with “felony murder” for that death?) Typically, the answer has been “yes”.

  3. Contrarion Says:

    Then The Statute is wrong.

    Lisle Auman was handcuffed and in the back of a police vehicle at the time of the murder.It can be argued that she was being held against her will at the time this occured, by law enforcement!

  4. Janice Conner Says:

    The felony murder law is unjust. The elements of 1st degree muder do not even have to be proved. In the Lisl Auman case, the DA insists this law is good, but did not even bother to charge any of the other participants. The DA has placed himself in the shoes of God. He picks and choses who gets it and who does’nt. Justice for all…bullshit. How many peoples lives are being wasted over convictions with this law? How much money is being spent over convictions, endless appeals, and incarceration? Limits on this law must be set when there is no participation in a death.

  5. Donna Grimes Says:

    I correspond with Lisl who introduced me to a friend of hers in prison, Cheryl Armstrong who got 99 yrs for murder by sitting in a car 2 blocks away from the murder! My initial interest? My son, Isaac Grimes got 60yrs for 2nd degree murder for telling the truth about his crime. He was 15, under duress, there were horrendous mitigating circumstances and he gave the police their case on a silver platter. I’m thinking most of the crooks are still on the outside and working for our judicial system.

  6. Rob Auerbach Says:

    Please go to Lisl’s Website and read the police statements given the day of the crime and then look at the ammended statements given days later after meeting with the DA. The DA was present at Lisl’s police interviews and indicted he did NOT think murder charges were appropiate but after the officers came in and changed their original statements he charged her with murder. The police officers said they FORGOT to mention the day of the crime that they thought Lisl passed a gun the the guy she just met that day. Lisl was moving her things and never asked anyone to hurt anyone or commit burglary. Police felt someone had to pay and Lisl was framed pure and simple.

  7. babylon252 Says:

    The thoughtless thugs who ran and still are running this case for the Denver district attorney’s office must be run out of office this case is a sham and proves that the denver police department uses the constitution of this country as a urinal puck. The man who had to pay for this crime is dead by his own hands and gone. There is no-one left to blame Releaseing Lisl Auman is a must. The people of this county have shown that they want Auman out. I am a resident of Denver and I don’t know of a single person in this area that belives that she should be held accountable for this crime. LET HER OUT

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