A suspect in the witness-silencing slaying of two CSU graduates may be spared the death penalty due to a clerical error, according to a prominent Denver civil rights attorney.
Prosecutors on Wednesday decided to pursue the death penalty against suspects Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens for the murders of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fianc/e Vivan Wolfe, both 22.
But a possible clerical error on a document stating the prosecutor’s intention to pursue capital punishment in the case of Robert Ray was found in papers filed Jan. 26, the last day prosecutors could file the notice.
“Ask the DAs why they screwed up,” said attorney David Lane, a vocal opponent of capital punishment. “Let them explain why they are such incompetent idiots.”
A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said she was unable to discuss the case.
“The district attorney’s office is moving forward with the death penalty in the case,” said Kathleen Walsh, a spokeswoman for the Arapahoe County district attorney’s office. “I’m not permitted to discuss any details because of the gag order.”
Marshall-Fields and Wolfe were killed in June 2005, shortly after Marshall-Fields graduated and before he was set to testify as a witness in a murder trial.
A jury found Owens guilty in January of the murder of Gregory Vann, whose shooting death Marshall-Fields witnessed.
Ray was convicted of being an accessory to Vann’s murder.
Lane said rules are rules, and they must be followed.
“Put it this way, if you miss a filing deadline by a day, they won’t accept your appeal,” he said. “This works the same way.”
Theresa Grangruth wasn’t aware on Thursday afternoon of the possible gaffe over Marshall-Fields’ murder. The administrative assistant at Black Student Services knew the 22-year-old student since he was a freshman, but their relationship grew strongest his last two years at CSU.
“It really did a number on me emotionally,” she said. “It’s hard to talk about it even now.”
Photos of Marshall-Fields and Wolfe adorn Grangruth’s workspace. She said she’s in support of the death penalty because the parents of the victims are.
“Both of them are strong women,” he said of Wolfe’s and Marshall-Fields’ mothers. “They wouldn’t do this just out of anger.”
And Grangruth, too, wants to make sure that justice is served. But one way or the other, she said, in this life or the next, it will be: “They will get theirs.”
Associate News Managing Editor J. David McSwane contributed to this report.
Managing Editor Vimal Patel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.