- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DENVER (AP) - A Colorado court is considering an appeal by one of three men on the state’s death row after his attorneys testified Tuesday about a list of alleged problems with his trial.

Robert Ray, 28, is not challenging the conviction for which he was sentenced to death in 2009.

Instead, he is seeking a new trial on his earlier conviction for attempted murder, for shooting Javad Marshall-Fields - the son of state Rep. Rhonda Fields - and another man at an Aurora park in 2004.

While Ray was jailed on that charge, authorities say he had Marshall-Fields killed because Marshall-Fields was going to testify against him in the park shootings.

Prosecutors say Ray was with his friend Sir Mario Owens at the park when a scuffle broke out, and the two started shooting.

Owens was convicted of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Gregory Vann, 20, at the park, and Ray was convicted of attempted first-degree murder.

Marshall-Fields was a witness to Vann’s killing and was preparing to testify against Ray and Owens when he was shot to death in 2005, prosecutors said.

After Ray was convicted in 2009 in Marshall-Fields’ slaying, prosecutors cited the park shooting convictions as reasons he should be sentenced to death.

Ray’s attorneys told the Colorado Court of Appeals during a Tuesday hearing that problems throughout the proceedings mean he should get a new trial on the attempted murder charge.

Among other issues, they say a trial judge gave jurors faulty instructions on charges of attempted first-degree murder, self-defense and complicity. The appeals court also is considering whether there was enough evidence to support Ray’s conviction, and whether a number of other procedural problems warrant a new trial.

Attorney Gail Johnson said a judge should have responded but took no action when a juror wrote a note suggesting he wanted to be removed from the jury because he thought the only way he could end deliberations was to compromise his belief in justice.

But John Lee of the Colorado attorney general’s office said it was unclear what the juror’s intention was with the note, and the judge did nothing wrong.

The appeals court will issue a ruling later.


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