No Gag Order In Dragging Death Case

This undated handout photo provided by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office shows Jose Luis Rubi-Nava. Nava, 36, was arrested Tuesday night on a charge of first-degree murder and was being held without bail in the Douglas County jail, Sheriff Dave Weaver said.
A judge refused Thursday to impose a gag order in the case against a Mexican immigrant accused of dragging his girlfriend to death behind a vehicle, despite defense claims that nationwide attention could jeopardize the possibility of a fair trial.

Douglas County District Judge Paul King ordered court and police officials to abide by conduct rules regarding publicity, but said no additional guidelines were required.

Jose Luis Rubi-Nava, 36, is being held without bail on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree kidnapping in the slaying of Luz Marie Franco Fierros, 49. Her battered and disfigured body was found Sept. 18 in a suburb about 20 miles south of Denver.

Defense attorney Tamara Brady told King that nationwide coverage could jeopardize her client's fair-trial rights without a news blackout. She cited a Sept. 21 speech given by Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, on the floor of the U.S. House of representatives in which he mentioned the case as he said the U.S. border is porous. The speech was broadcast on the cable network C-SPAN.

"If everyone had done their job correctly, this horrible crime would not have occurred," Brady quoted Tancredo as saying.

Investigators said Franco Fierros had been dragged behind a vehicle for more than a mile, leaving a bloody trail. Preliminary autopsy results said she died of asphyxiation and head injuries from being strangled as she was dragged.

Prosecutor Darren Vahle said the Douglas County sheriff's office would limit its comments to only those made through a spokeswoman and approved by the district attorney's office.

Rubi-Nava, who listened to the proceedings through an interpreter but did not speak during the hearing, faces another court appearance Nov. 1. The murder charge carries a sentence of death or life in prison, thought prosecutors have not said what sentence they will seek.