Yesterday, Robert Ray was sentenced to death in connection with the 2005 murders of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe -- a verdict that duplicated the one previously given to Ray's accomplice, Sir Mario Owens. The ruling brings the population of Colorado's death row to three; Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted in 1996 of four slayings at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, is the third member of this ignominious group.
Both Owens and Ray were on a list of "Inmates Waitin' Around to Die" -- the title of Alan Prendergast's sidebar to a feature article about Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers' approach to billing the prison system for expensive death-penalty prosecutions. As for the states with the largest death row populations, California, Florida and Texas traditionally lead the pack, and their stats certainly dwarf Colorado's. According to a searchable page on the Death Penalty Information Center website, California's current death-row population is 678, followed by Florida with 402 and Texas with 358.
These numbers will reassure most Coloradans -- but not the friends and family of Marshall-Fields and Wolfe.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.