New trial possible for man on Colorado death row

9NEWS at 5 p.m. 3/2/17.

KUSA - One of the three men on Colorado's death row is seeking a new trial because lawyers for Sir Mario Owens say one of the jurors, identified only as Juror 45, lied during the jury selection proceedings and had contact with witnesses during the trial.

There’s now a warrant for that juror’s arrest, after she was subpoenaed to appear in court in January to talk about the trial she was a part of 10 years ago. She didn't show up.

This is just another chapter in a lengthy, complicated story where two men got the death penalty for killing three people more than a decade ago.

“There is a never-ending struggle between the desire to have criminal convictions become final and making sure that the process of justice at the trial be fair,” said 9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson, who read all 210 pages of the defense’s filing, as well as the prosecution’s response.

Lawyers for Sir Mario Owens are saying his first trial wasn't fair.

In that case, Owens was on trial for killing Gregory Vann at Lowry Park in 2004. That murder later led to the killing of witness Javad Marshall Fields and his fiancé Vivian Wolfe. Fields was expected to testify in the Vann homicide.

“From the allegations by the defense, this is a juror who knew many of the witnesses and whose own son may have been at the scene of the crime. That's not the kind of information you can conceal when you're being questioned as a potential juror,” said Robinson.

Robinson said the only way for our justice system to work is to have jurors who are unbiased and don't have a personal stake in the outcome.

Arapahoe County prosecutors says all these issues have already been litigated and Owens' prosecution results should be final.

Javad Marshall Field's mother Rhonda Fields, now a state senator, says the focus should be on the victims.

“My son and his fiancée were ambushed and murdered. My heart is broken and my soul is shaken. No mother should live with the intense grief and pain of losing a child for participating in our criminal justice system. Don't get distracted...Two young people (Javad Fields & Vivian Wolfe) were robbed of their promise and contribution to this world,” Fields wrote in an email to 9NEWS.

Here's what happens next, before we get to the point of a new trial, if there is one.

A judge will first have to decide whether to grant the defense a hearing where the defense will present evidence about juror 75's alleged misconduct. The judge has no deadline as to when he has to make this decision and it's impossible to say how long it will take to work all this out and get a final decision about whether any of it will affect Owens' status on Colorado's death row. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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