Rex Fowler Found Guilty Of First-Degree Murder

Prosecutor Says Rex Fowler Shot Thomas Ciancio Three Times In Face

After just two hours of deliberation, an Adams County jury found Rex Fowler guilty of first-degree murder in the slaying of his former business partner.

Fowler, 59, was immediately sentenced to life in prison.

The fact that Fowler shot and killed Thomas Ciancio was never in dispute. What was in dispute was whether the act was deliberate and pre-planned.

Prosecutors argued the fact that Ciancio was shot three times in the face could not be an accident -- it was an execution.

"Mr. Fowler waited until (Ciancio) signed that separation agreement before he took his life. Looked him right in the eye when he pulled that first trigger. He shot him right in the face! What does that tell you about deliberation?" prosecutor Dave Young asked the jury during closing arguments in the trial.

The defense argued that Fowler went to the office that day, armed with a gun, to kill himself.

"We're not trying to justify it. (Ciancio's) death is a tragedy but it is not first-degree murder," said Sarah Quinn, one of Fowler's two defense attorneys. "(Fowler's) only plan was to take his own life. No intent. No deliberation. It was just a tragic reaction by Mr. Fowler."

The jury had to decide if Fowler was guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder. District Court Judge Francis Wasserman dismissed defense requests to include crime of passion and other lesser offenses in the jury instructions.

Ciancio died Dec. 30, 2009 while he went to the office to collect a severance check from Fowler Software Design. Ciancio had decided to leave the company after the founder, 58-year-old Rex Fowler, had diverted $175,000 in company funds to Fowler's church, the Church of Scientology.

He and Fowler, the founder of the company, were the only two people inside the lower-level office near 84th Avenue and Interstate 25 that day.

Young and a fellow prosecutor waved a replica handgun during closing arguments to demonstrate the actions they allege Fowler took in putting three bullets into Ciancio's head.

"If you fire three shots into someone's head it is your intent to kill," said prosecutor Yvette Werner.

"It is your conscious objective for them to be dead. (The defense) wants you to believe it was ... what? 'Oops! Oops! Oops!'" she said pointing a replica gun towards wall."Does that make any sense to you? Of course not."

Earlier Friday, Dr. James Wilkerson IV told the jury Ciancio had been shot "within two feet" -- and two of the shots were to the back of the head.

Photos displayed showed one bullet entered Ciacio's head by the left eyebrow, one behind the left ear, and one in the center of the back of the head.

Wilkerson told the jury that all three shots "would most likely be fatal."

"The shot behind the ear would be about as fast a death as you can get," Wilkerson said.

Quinn questioned the accuracy of the crime scene investigation by the Adams County Sheriff's Department and told the jury Fowler was still suicidal a month after the incident.

"(He) still thought about killing himself 10 times a day. Yes, Mr. Fowler is responsible for the death of Mr. Ciancio. But there were the acts of a desperate man," Quinn said.

The defense presented no witnesses.

"This was a senseless killing of a devoted family man," said District Attorney Don Quick. "He had a wife and four children and a close knit extended family. I am deeply saddened that they all have had to suffer such an indescribable loss."

Print this article Back to Top