Judge Orders Death Penalty Case of Sir Mario Owens Unsealed
Editor’s Note: In stories Feb. 24 and March 6 about sealed files in the Sir Mario Owens death penalty case, The Associated Press reported erroneously that media organizations sought to unseal the files because the death penalty was expected to be an issue in the 2014 gubernatorial race. The organizations did not make that argument, but rather challenged the sealing on legal grounds. A corrected version is below:
DENVER (AP) – A judge has ordered files in the case of a Colorado death row inmate to be unsealed.
Arapahoe County District Judge Gerald Rafferty agreed Thursday to release courtroom transcripts, the docket and other filings from the case of Sir Mario Owens.
Owens was convicted and sentenced to die in 2008 in the deaths of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe. Marshall-Fields was a witness in another murder trial.
Media organizations, including The Associated Press, had asked the court to unseal the file, which includes courtroom transcripts.
Prosecutors objected to releasing the Owens files, saying the information could lead to retaliation against witnesses. The judge said some information would be redacted.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to hear an appeal from Owens, who argued it was a violation of his First Amendment rights that the court file from his case remained sealed six years after his conviction. His attorneys said they wanted to be able to distribute the case records to publicize government misconduct. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal without comment.
Owens is one of three people on Colorado’s death row. Also among them is Robert Ray, against whom Marshall-Fields was supposed to testify when he was killed.
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