Buncombe County deputies on Tuesday arrested Robert Jason Owens and charged him with first-degree murder in the deaths of 38-year-old Cristie Codd and her husband, 45-year-old J.T. Codd of Hookers Gap Road. Deputies also charged Owens with the murder of an unborn child. Cristie Codd was reportedly five-months pregnant.
Codd was a contestant on an episode of a Food Network reality TV show, and her death has captured national media attention.
Owens was also a person of interest in an infamous, 15-year-old missing person’s case in Buncombe County.
Todd Williams, a local defense attorney, beat 24-year incumbent District Attorney Ron Moore in last year’s Democratic primary. Williams went on to win the DA’s seat in the November general election.
During the election, Moore touted his record as a tough prosecutor and criticized Williams for his lack of courtroom experience in big death penalty cases. Williams countered by criticizing Moore for serious prosecutorial mistakes that led to the wrongful conviction of two men. Williams also promised to bring integrity and fairness to the DA’s office.
Williams has not yet said whether he will seek the death penalty in the developing case against Owens. Because Owens faces murder charges in the death of the Codd’s, as well as the death of an unborn child, it’s likely that he would seek the death penalty here. It’s his first chance to establish himself as a tough prosecutor.
Williams could also use the death penalty case as leverage in dealing with Owens. If Owens really does have any information in the old Quinn case, Williams could conceivably negotiate – life in prison for information leading to a resolution of the perplexing cold case?
Williams and Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan have moved methodically through this investigation, offering the media few details as they investigate. Both are highly aware of importance of this case.