Charles Packard and nine contractors built an exact replica of a cell at the “Supermax” facility at the federal prison in Florence, Co., It’s the cell where Rudy Sablan lived with his cousin, William, and Joey Estrella. Rudy Sablan is charged with first-degree murder in the 1999 death of Estrella; prosecutors seek the death penalty. Opening statements in his trial are today at the Denver federal courthouse. William Sablan was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A key part of the defense case is the cell they occupied. Defense attorneys want to draw attention to conditions at the prison. The 7-by-11-foot cell the three men shared was intended for a single man. To convey the emotional reality, Packard was hired to build a cell accurate to within a quarter of an inch. He is scheduled as an expert witness to testify about his design, which cost about $15,000.