William Rex Fowler: $200K Scientology donor found guilty of murdering Thomas Ciancio

Update: William Rex Fowler, whose software firm faced ruin in part because he donated around $200,000 to the Church of Scientology, argued that he had been about to kill himself when his partner, Thomas Ciancio, interrupted him -- and wound up with multiple gunshots to the head. But a jury didn't buy it, convicting Fowler, who survived his suicide attempt, of murder.

As noted by the Denver Post, the jury didn't spend ages wrestling with its decision, returning its verdict in just a little over two hours. And while the judge overseeing the trial forbade attorneys from mentioning Scientology while delivering their arguments, the controversial church was the subject of much debate among observers, as is clear from our earlier coverage, on view below.

Original item, 11:10 a.m. February 25: An Adams County District judge is trying to keep Scientology from overwhelming the William Rex Fowler murder trial, even though Fowler's software company was reportedly in trouble because he gave around $200,000 to the sect. But that hasn't prevented anti-Scientology forums from linking the object of their derision to the late 2009 slaying of Thomas Ciancio, Fowler's ex-partner.

According to the Denver Post piece linked above, all sides in the case acknowledge that Fowler's Scientology-related largesse had undermined the firm he named after himself, Fowler Software. But while prosecutors contend that the murder was premeditated, Fowler's attorneys insist their client was planning to kill himself when Ciancio showed up to demand money he felt he was owed. Fowler allegedly reacted by shooting Ciancio three times in the head with a Glock before turning the gun on himself. He survived the self-inflicted wound to his head.

As the Post notes, the judge forbade attorneys from asking jurors about their opinions on Scientology. But users of certainly haven't been shy about sharing theirs in connection with the Fowler case. The massive thread devoted to Fowler includes a steady stream of invective, exemplified by comments like this one:

Rex Fowler was an upper level OT and an esteemed & celebrated thetan in the cult which touts themselves as the most ethical people on planet Earth.

I guess old Rex's OT powerz were taking a coffee break when he blew an innocent man, husband & father of small children away in cold blood.

Also included on the page is the Fowler poster below, as well as a Fox31 report about the slaying and the arrest affidavit, viewable here in its entirety. The Post reports that the trial is expected to run through today.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Tracy Lee Ottaway gets probation (but is banned from Cherry Creek) for trying to run down valet."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts