Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty In Witness' Murder

Javad Marshall-Fields, Fiancee Killed Week Before Testifying In Trial

Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers told 7NEWS that she will seek the death penalty in the shooting deaths of Javad Marshall Fields and his fiancee Vivian Wolfe.

During a Wednesday morning news conference, Chambers announced the decision to seek the death penalty for both Sir Mario Owens and Robert Ray.

"I think it's a very profound decision to make. It should never be done lightly. It's something that I think should be done only in cases where it is very clear that the death penalty -- that there's a reason to go to that extreme. And in this case, we think it's warranted," Chambers said.

"We've been praying for this since day one," said Christine Wolfe, Vivian's mother. "This is not easy, this is a very, very painful process. You don't know how many times, before I go to bed, I say, 'I can't do this.' But the next morning I get up and say, 'No, I don't want to let them win.'"

Wolfe said she and Javad's mother, Rhonda Fields, are committed to seeing justice for their slain children.

Rhonda Fields said, "We support this decision and we're really pleased."

She added that, "The message Carol Chambers is sending with the death penalty just says ... that we're going to have zero tolerance when it comes to killing and intimidating a witness."

Chambers cited 11 aggravating factors and said she came to her decision after long, difficult discussions with her staff, members of the community and members of the victims' families.

"We try not to make it an emotional decision. It is a decision based on our evaluation of the facts, of the statutory aggravators. We talk to all the families involved, anybody who wants to have input we talk to them because it's very important to us that the families have a say in how we proceed and what we do. And that they're on board because it's a difficult process," she said.

Among the aggravating factors cited for both men are previous felony convictions and being a party to an agreement to kill another person. Aggravating factors for Ray also include committing the act for the "purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution."

Chambers said the aggravating factors against Owens are committing the felony for monetary gain, knowingly causing death to another person in addition to the victim of the offense, committing the offense for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution -- including intentionally killing of a witness to a criminal offense -- with "universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, allegedly killing two or more people."

"All senior attorneys meet and discuss every first degree murder case, look at all the facts, all the aggravators, then we come to a decision on whether death penalty is appropriate," Chambers said.

Owens and Ray are both charged with killing the couple back in June 2005, the night before Marshall-Fields was to testify in a murder trial against Owens.

Ray's attorney was at the news conference on Wednesday but could not comment on the DA's decision, citing the gag order in the case.

Chambers also said that the gag order prevents her from talking about the facts of the case.

"We want this to be litigated in a court of law, with the rules of evidence and a judge presiding and not in the court of popular opinion so that everybody is insured fairness here," Chambers said.

Last month, Owens was found guilty of killing Gregory Vann and injuring two others during a 2004 Fourth of July celebration at an Aurora park.

According to testimony presented during the three-week trial, Vann and Marshall-Fields hosted a rap music festival all day at Lowry Park in Aurora and it had been peaceful. Then a car with Owens and Ray pulled up and there was a confrontation. Owens opened fire as he tried to flee, prosecutors said. Vann was killed and Marshall-Fields and another person were injured.

Marshall Fields was supposed to testify in Vann's case, but was gunned down while driving his car in the middle of an intersection before he could.

Even without Marshall Fields' testimony, Owens was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder and two counts of assault causing serious bodily injury.

For the Vann murder, Owens faces a minimum of life in prison without the possibility of parole and will be sentenced April 3. Ray was already sentenced to 108 years.

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