Murderer staying put, court rules

Panel rejects plea for shorter sentence

Nathan Lucero, in 1995.

A 33-year-old man who has been imprisoned since 1995 will remain in the Colorado Department of Corrections under a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Nathan Lucero pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and three sentence enhancers in connection with the 1994 shooting death of a man in Mack as the victim slept. Lucero was 15 at the time.

Lucero challenged his 84-year sentence in 2011, contending that his sentence was cruel and unusual because he was given the equivalent of a life sentence.

He contended as well that the sentence was flawed because the Department of Corrections failed to submit a diagnostic report at his sentencing.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held juveniles could not be sentenced to life without parole for crimes other than homicide should apply to his case, Lucero said in his appeal. His was the equivalent of a life sentence, Lucero said.

Lucero’s crime, however, involved a killing, the appellate court said, and he received a sentence that he could conceivably complete.

“We conclude that the parole-eligibility date will occur within his natural lifetime and presents him with a meaningful opportunity for release,” the appellate court said.

Lucero is scheduled for a parole hearing in January 2035, when he will be 55 years old, according to the Department of Corrections website.

In any case, Lucero’s sentence was consistent with Colorado state law, the unanimous three-judge panel concluded in upholding a ruling by Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison. It also noted that Lucero agreed to a sentence of consecutive terms amounting to between 42 and 128 years.

Lucero’s claim should have been filed within 120 days after his sentence was handed down, but he appealed it a decade later, the court said.

Nathan Lucero is serving his sentence in the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility.

His father, Fred Lucero, 55, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for the stabbing slaying of his girlfriend in Grand Junction, is serving his sentence in the Colorado State Penitentiary.


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