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With Death Penalty Repeal Sent To Governor's Desk, Colorado Senator Wants Voters To Decide

DENVER (CBS4) - A bill to repeal Colorado's death penalty is headed to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis. He is expected to sign it into law, making Colorado the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty.

The measure passed the roll call vote 38 to 27 on Wednesday. Among those opposing the repeal was State Sen. Rhonda Fields.

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(credit: CBS)

"It is a tough conversation to have," she said.

Her son, Javad Marshall-Field and his fiancée Vivian Wolfe, were murdered in Aurora in 2005.

The two men responsible, Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens, were sentenced to death. Only one other inmate, Nathan Dunlap, is also on death row.

For years, Fields has been fighting to keep Colorado's highest penalty in place, sharing her families story of loss at hearing after hearing, despite how painful it can be.

"I have to relive that trauma and that experience, and it comes with a lot of scars," Fields said.

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Rhonda Fields (credit: CBS)

Her push ended on Wednesday after a majority of lawmakers voted to repeal the death penalty in Colorado. It's a decision that came after six failed attempts.

House Majority Leader Alec Garnett told CBS4 he couldn't be swayed and voted "yes."

"I'm compelled to vote for this because I believe in a society that spends money on reform of the system, not on appeals. I believe in a society that invests in rehabilitation and not investing in administering drug cocktails," he said.

Fields said the way she sees it, justice for victims is being hijacked.

"What this bill does by the repeal, it sends a very clear message that no matter how heinous the crime is, everyone gets the same penalty," she said.

Death Penalty Table
Colorado's death chamber (credit: CBS)

She and other opponents believe the decision should go to the voters, but no effort thus far has been made to get it on the ballot.

As for the future for the three men currently on death row, their fate will be left up to the governor.

In a statement a spokesperson for his office wrote:

There are currently no clemency requests involving the death penalty before the Governor. All clemency requests are weighty decisions that the Governor will judge on their individual merits. That is one of many factors he would consider along with all of the facts surrounding the case.

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