Case against alleged Vail shooter delayed again
EAGLE, Colorado – The timing of the trial against Richard “Rossi” Moreau, set for February, remains uncertain after a court hearing Wednesday.
While the trial date is still set for Feb. 7, delays on expert reports from the prosecution are leaving questions about whether the trial, which was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 20 of this year, will start on time.
Moreau is charged with first-degree murder, along with seven other felonies, in the Nov. 7, 2009, shooting at the Sandbar in West Vail.
Moreau’s public defenders, Reed Owens and Dana Christiansen, told Judge R. Thomas Moorhead Wednesday that expert reports should be ready in about two weeks.
Assistant District Attorney Steve Mallory said defense attorneys made the same claim at the last hearing more than a month ago.
Mallory expects the defense attorneys to need time to review the reports before Mallory and District Attorney Mark Hurlbert also have time to review the reports.
Hurlbert, who was not in court Wednesday, has said the assumption is that the experts are from the mental health field, but Christiansen wouldn’t comment on what kinds of experts are compiling reports.
Christiansen told Moorhead that he communicated with one of the experts via e-mail on Tuesday, who told him reports would be ready in about two weeks.
It’s still too early to tell if the delay would affect the trial date, Christiansen said.
Moorhead decided to postpone Wednesday’s pre-trial hearing until early December because discussing other items related to the trial would be premature without the reports.
Mallory said the reports could affect the plea in the case, which defense attorneys entered as not guilty in June. Christiansen and Owens will have an opportunity to change Moreau’s plea once the expert reports are obtained, although they have not said whether they will change the plea or what the new plea could be.
While Hurlbert said in September that as long as the expert reports were available by the first of the year he would have enough time to review them and potentially hire prosecution experts in time for the trial, Mallory wasn’t so sure Wednesday.
“It’s hard to tell without the reports,” Mallory said.
Moreau is accused of shooting Gary Kitching and three others in the Nov. 7 incident, most of which is caught on video from the Sandbar’s surveillance cameras.
Kitching, 70, of Carbondale, died from his wounds, which included gun shots to the chest, left thigh and arm. His wife, Lani, was hiding behind a couch about 10 feet away when her husband was shot.
Hurlbert decided in March not to seek the death penalty against Moreau, citing a lack of “reasonable probability” that the death penalty could be secured.
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