DENVER (AP) — Lawyers for one of the three men on Colorado's death row are seeking a new trial because they allege a juror didn't reveal that she had ties to several witnesses, a relative of a victim as well as the defendant's family.
Sir Mario Owens was convicted in two different murder cases in Aurora — the shooting death of Gregory Vann in 2004 and the deaths of a witness to that shooting, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe, in 2005.
The juror participated in the first trial. Owens' conviction in that case helped win a death sentence in the second.
The Denver Post reports a judge issued a warrant for the juror's arrest on Feb. 17 after she failed to show up at a hearing to be questioned.
"Reading the paper this morning was absolutely heartbreaking," said Rhonda Fields. Owens was convicted of killing her son, Javad Marshall-Fields.
"So today, my heart is heavy, and I'm just thinking about the deepness of his loss," said Fields, who said she has faith in the prosecutors and sees this as a "desperate" attempt by the defense.
"I think it's a distraction," said Fields. "I think we should be focusing on the truth, and the truth is that Sir Mario Owens ambushed and murdered my son on June 20, 2005."
The defense accused the juror of submitting a juror questionnaire "rife with falsehoods" about her criminal history.
They also state that her son was at one of the crime scenes and told her to get off the jury because she was "too close to it."
"I've never seen jury misconduct as egregious as what is alleged here," said Dan Rech, a criminal defense attorney not connected to the case. "If these allegations are true, Owens' conviction could be overturned, and if that is overturned, the death penalty phase of the second murder conviction has to be retried. This has happened in the past, and cases have been overturned in the past."
In court documents, prosecutors state that the allegations against Juror 75 have already been heard and litigated.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com