Monday, September 18, 2017

Despite prosecutorial misconduct verdict stands according to 1,343 page opinion

Senior Judge Christopher Munch from Arapahoe County, Colorado has denied the death penalty appeal of Sir Mario Owens who was convicted of killing three people in two separate incidents, reported the Denver Post. Munch said Owen's ultimately received a fair trial and was represented well enough by his attorneys. The ruling took nearly a decade to reach, and was a whopping 1,343 pages in length. 
“The court concludes that Owens received a fair trial – one whose result is reliable,” Munch wrote on the last of his . “He also received a fair sentencing hearing — one whose result was constitutionally obtained, justified in law, and is rationally based upon the evidence.”
Owens was first convicted of murder in 2007, in connection with the 2004 shooting death of 20-year-old Gregory Vann at a party in Aurora’s Lowry Park. The following year, in 2008, a different jury convicted Owens in the 2005 killings of Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe, both 22. He was sentenced to death.
At the time of his murder, Marshall-Fields had been scheduled to testify against another suspect in Vann’s death, and prosecutors argued that Marshall-Fields and Wolfe, his fiancĂ©e, were killed to silence them. 
Defense attorneys raised numerous concerns about Owens’ convictions, including an allegation of juror misconduct during the Lowry Park trial that Munch denied earlier this year. Munch ruled in his Thursday order, though, that prosecutors improperly withheld evidence during the case — by not disclosing numerous instances in which they provided witnesses money or other benefits.
For instance, prosecutors did not tell Owens’ attorneys that they had promised and later given a car to one key witness. Other witnesses received undisclosed lenience in separate criminal cases facing them. In at least one instance, prosecutors did not reveal that a witness had been present at another shooting while in the witness protection program and preparing to testify in Owens’ case. Prosecutors also withheld information about money that witnesses were paid as informants or in the witness protection program.
Defense attorneys said the evidence could have been used at trial to question the credibility of the witnesses. But, in each instance, Munch concluded that the evidence wasn’t significant enough to overturn the trial. At best, Munch said, the evidence would have been considered “helpful” but not outcome-changing.
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