Rep. Rhonda Fields on push to repeal death penalty: "An insult to crime victims"
Representative Rhonda Fields, an Aurora Democrat, generally sides with liberal lawmakers in Colorado. But when it comes to a possible repeal of the death penalty, she is unwavering in her opposition. Getting rid of the death penalty would be an insult to crime victims and ill-timed given recent horrific tragedies, she says. And for Fields, it's personal: The man who killed her son is on death row.
As we reported yesterday, there is talk among legislators about a possible push to repeal the death penalty in the session that will begin next month. Efforts to get rid of the death penalty in the past have been unsuccessful, but there could be more support this time around.
Boulder Representative Claire Levy is reportedly considering the legislation and, as we noted in our coverage yesterday, Representative Mark Ferrandino, the new Colorado Speaker of the House, says he remains supportive of a repeal initiative.
Sam Levin Representative Rhonda Fields, right, at a news conference with Aurora and Columbine families last week.
Fields, who led a press conference last week to call for gun reforms in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, tells us she is upset about the new push for a repeal -- but that her colleagues are well aware of her stance. "It's a very insensitive thing to do in light of the recent tragedies our nation and state has experienced," says Fields, who was very active in the aftermath of the Aurora theater shooting on July 20. "It sends the wrong message to the people in our state that no matter how horrible the crime is going to be in the state of Colorado in 2013...we have lawmakers who want to...remove the death penalty as an option for the DA. It's very disturbing to me. I think it's an insult to crime victims. I don't think the timing is right."
There are currently three inmates on death row in Colorado. Two of them are men responsible for killing Fields's son, Javad Marshall-Fields, in 2005. Marshall-Fields and his fiance, Vivian Wolfe, both 22 at the time, were killed in a hail of gunfire. He was a material witness in a murder case and had agreed to testify against Robert Ray, who was ultimately sentenced to death alongside his accomplice, Sir Mario Owens.
"It's a slap in the face," Fields says of a repeal. "For me, there are three people on death row and two of the people on death row are there for crimes committed against my son and his fiance."
Continue for more of our interview with Representative Rhonda Fields.