DENVER (AP) – The Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the conviction of a death row inmate who prosecutors say lived by the motto, “You snitch, you die.”
The court ruled that Sir Mario Owens received a fair trial in 2008 when he was convicted of killing a potential witness in a murder trial and that man’s fiancee.
The decision stated that there was no misconduct by the district attorney’s office and that a judge had a right to limit defense attorneys’ access to other witnesses because of possible threats to their safety.
Owens is one three men on death row in Colorado, which hasn’t executed anyone in 15 years. He was convicted of killing Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe, Marshall-Fields’ fiancee.
Owens appealed his conviction, claiming 17 witnesses on probation may have received special treatment and that a judge erred by limiting his attorneys’ access to potential witnesses.
“To aid the defendant’s right of confrontation, an accused generally has the right to know a witness’s identity and address. However,” the appeals court stated, “this right is not absolute. Here, the trial court noted that a witness in this case had been murdered … and that charges were pending as a result.”
Attorneys for Owens did not return phone calls Thursday seeking comment.
Marshall-Fields and Wolfe were stopped at an intersection in the Denver suburb of Aurora when they were shot. Marshall-Fields was expected to testify against Owens in another murder case.
Robert Ray is on death row after being convicted of ordering the slaying of Marshall-Fields. Owens was found guilty of being the triggerman. And Parish Carter was convicted in 2010 of witness intimidation after prosecutors identified him as the getaway driver.
Owens also was later convicted of killing Gregory Vann, a friend of Marshall-Fields, at an Aurora park in 2004. Marshall-Fields was to have testified at Owens’ trial.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)