ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Prosecutors laid out their case Wednesday against a software company owner accused of killing his business partner, and what the owner’s church had to do with the crime.
Prosecutors called it cold blooded murder. They say Rex Fowler shot his business partner Thomas Ciancio in the head. Fowler then shot himself and survived.
The shooting was in late 2009 at the office of Fowler Software in Adams County. Prosecutors say Ciancio believed Fowler had funneled as much as $250,000 from the company to the Church of Scientology where Fowler was a high ranking church member.
Ciancio went to the business that day to collect severance pay.
In a previous ruling the judge said that the fact Fowler is a Scientologist will not play a part in the trial.
In opening statements there was no denying Fowler killed Ciancio, but defense attorneys say it was not premeditated and that the company had financial problems. They say Fowler planned to kill himself and put a living will and gun in his pocket before leaving home.
Prosecutors argued Fowler was upset with Ciancio because he quit as chief operating officer a month before the shooting.
Ciancio’s wife testified her husband went to the office that day to collect $9,000 severance pay. An investigator found e-mails between Fowler and the CEO of the company. One from Fowler read, “Please tell him, 10 a.m. here in the office. I will handle it.”
Two people who worked in the same building said they heard gunshots and one bullet even entered through a shared wall.
A former employee testified she talked to Ciancio shortly before the shooting. She called him outgoing and friendly. She said minutes after he went into Fowler’s office she “heard gunshots and a brief pause and then another gunshot.” Moments later she said she heard Fowler “moaning as if he was in pain.”
The trial is expected to last about a week. On Thursday prosecutors will continue their case.