‘Make-My-Day’ Defendant Gets Life in Separate Case

Associated Press

A man who successfully used a “make-my-day” defense in the killing of a neighbor was sentenced Friday to life in prison for the murder of his estranged wife.

David Guenther, 35, who was convicted of shooting and killing his wife, Pamela, and wounding her boyfriend outside a restaurant last year, cannot be considered for parole for 40 years, District Judge Harlan Bockman ruled.

As he left court Friday and got into a police car, Guenther told reporters: “I’ll have another trial someday, hopefully in about a year.” His lawyers already have planned an appeal.


In April, 1986, Guenther shot and killed a neighbor and wounded two other people in the climax to a neighborhood feud. A judge ruled that he acted lawfully under the state’s “make-my-day” law, which allows residents to use deadly force in their homes against intruders.

Eastwood Character Quoted

The name comes from a movie in which Clint Eastwood plays a police officer who urges a criminal to shoot at him so the officer will have a reason to fire back. Eastwood’s character says: “Go ahead, make my day.”

However, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned that ruling and made Guenther stand trial. A jury acquitted him last October, finding that he had acted in self-defense.

By that time, however, Guenther was charged with killing his 30-year-old wife and wounding her boyfriend, Stanley Stinson. The Guenthers’ children, Christopher, 13, and Jennifer, 11, witnessed the March 1, 1987, shootings and were key prosecution witnesses.

Prosecutors said the attack followed a sequence of threats by Guenther against Mrs. Guenther, who had taken the children and left him a month before she was killed.