[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----COLO., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed May 14 22:04:45 CDT 2008
Man faces death penalty after guilty verdict in double murder
A jury found a man guilty of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder on Wednesday
afternoon, which means he could face the death penalty.
The jury found Sir Mario Owens guilty in the June 20, 2005 murder of Javad
Marshall Fields and his fiance Vivian Wolfe.
Owens is already serving a life sentence for another murder.
Owens sat quietly in the court as the verdict was read at around 2:30 p.m.
The murder case now moves on to the death penalty phase.
Marshall Fields' mother, Rhonda Fields, walked out of the courtroom
holding an enlarged a photo of her son wearing a graduation cap standing
with his fiance Wolfe. The photo was taken exactly three years ago to the
Fields sat in the front row of the courtroom every day of the trial and
has been an outspoken proponent in the state of better witness protection
laws. She was very pleased with the outcome.
"It's been very long, but I can tell you I feel extremely relieved that we
got to this point today," said Fields.
Fields went on to commend the district attorney's office for the
"They hit a home run, to think that we have a guilty verdict for
1st-degree murder," said Fields. "I think what it says is that you cannot
get away with murder in the state of Colorado."
Wolfe's mother was also present on Wednesday.
"A lot of times, I wasn't really sure I was going to make it through,"
said Christine Wolfe. "There was a lot of times and a lot of nights, I
wasn't sure I was going to make it, but we did."
The jury also found Owens guilty of witness intimidation, but deadlocked
on 1 count of aggravated witness intimidation. The judge declared a
mistrial on that 1 count.
The jury will start the death penalty phase on Monday morning. At the end
of that phase, the jury will be asked if they feel the death penalty is
appropriate for the crime. That part of the trial is expected to last at
least 2 weeks.
Arapahoe County prosecutors say "stop snitching" was the code Owens lived
by and that is why they say he decided to go after a witness with a gun in
his hand. Prosecutors painted Owens as a very cold, deliberate killer.
They said that as long as he thought there were snitches around, his
livelihood was at risk.
"It's really time to break the code of silence. If anyone has any
information that could help solve another crime, please call your police
department," said Fields.
The case was under a gag order, but the jury was not sequestered.
In June 2005, as they were driving in Aurora, Marshall Fields and Wolfe
came under attack when 13 bullets went into their car.
Marshall Fields tried to jump into the backseat to escape the attack, but
had already received what would turn out to be a fatal gunshot wound.
Marshall Fields was set to be a key witness in the 2004 murder of Gregory
Prosecutors say Owens went after Marshall Fields to prevent him from
"It speaks to the phenomenal young man he was that he was willing to
testify for seeing his friend get murdered," said Fields of her son. "And
that's something that you just don't see a lot in today's time."
At the trial, his defense argued that prosecutors were unable to
definitely put Owens at the murder scene and have relied on unreliable and
somewhat inconsistent witnesses.
"The jury has come out really clear," said Fields. "They have said that
we're just not going to stand for anyone that's willing to commit a murder
and silence someone because they're trying to elevate and solve a crime."
However, prosecutors pointed to a baseball cap with his DNA that was left
at the scene.
Owens has been convicted of the Vann murder and was sentenced to life in
Owens is the 1st of 3 suspects set to be tried in this case. Robert Ray
and Parrish Carter are also charged with 1st-degree murder.
(source: KUSA TV News)
Lawyers: Moreland suspect is retarded
Attorneys for Antonio D. Chance, the suspect in the August 2006 murder of
Cynthia Moreland, contend that Chance is mentally retarded, a designation
that would make him ineligible for the death penalty.
The lawyers for Chance, 30, filed a motion today asking that a judge hold
a pretrial hearing to determined whether Chance is retarded. His trial is
set for October.
Moreland, 48, a Progress Energy employee, was kidnapped from a downtown
Raleigh parking deck Aug. 22, 2006. Her partially nude body was found
Sept. 1 behind an abandoned house in a rural part of Harnett County. A
medical examiner indicated that she died of strangulation.
Attorneys Karl Knudsen and Wake Public Defender Bryan Collins said in the
motion today that Chance had scored 69, 75, 75, 67 and 67 on IQ tests on
different occasions. IQ scores of less than 70 are an indication of
A report by a Ginger Calloway, a Raleigh psychologist, indicated that
Chance's mother drank when she was pregnant with him. He repeated
kindergarten, fourth and ninth grades, according to Calloway's report.
He dropped out of school when he was 17 and in the ninth grade because of
a 1994 conviction that sent him to prison for sexually assaulting and
robbing a 32-year-old man in Fuquay-Varina. He was released in 1998 and
later convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, earning him two
more years in prison.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that it is unlawful to execute a person
who is mentally retarded. About the same time, North Carolina passed a law
banning the execution of the mentally retarded.
14 people have been taken off death row since then, said Ken Rose, a
senior staff member with the Durham-based Center for Death Penalty
North Carolina's law gives precise outlines of what constitutes mental
retardation: In addition to showing IQ scores of less than 70, defendants
must exhibit signs of retardation before the age of 18 and display
difficulties in adapting to everyday life.
If a district attorney's office agrees to a hearing, then a judge must
hold one. Otherwise, it is up to a judge to decide whether to hold a
hearing before trial.
Colon Willoughby, Wake's district attorney, said he hasn't yet reviewed
the lengthy documents attached to Chance's request.
Willoughby said the issue has come up recently in various cases.
"It's become an issue that's being raised in many cases around the state,"
Another Wake County murder suspect, Joseph Sanderlin, also has asked a
pretrial hearing on grounds of mental retardation. Willoughby opposed that
motion, and no judge has ruled whether to have a hearing or to let trial
jurors decide whether Sanderlin is retarded.
Sanderlin would be the 2nd man to be tried in the rape and stabbing death
of Lauren Redman in her West Raleigh apartment in November 2005.
Attorneys for Byron Waring, Sanderlin's co-defendant, raised mental
competency issues at his trial. But a jury sentenced him to death in July
2007. He currently is on death row.
Executions have been on hold in North Carolina for more than a year
because of legal issues regarding the method of execution.
(source: The News & Observer)
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