Five-month delay ahead in alleged Vail shooter’s trial
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The trial for Richard “Rossi” Moreau, the man charged with eight felonies, including first-degree murder, in the Nov. 7 shooting at the Sandbar in West Vail, has been postponed until Feb. 7.
The trial was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 20, but public defenders Reed Owens and Dana Christiansen filed a motion Wednesday asking to continue the jury trial until defense expert witnesses could complete their evaluations.
The two expert witnesses, described as mental health experts by District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, are the two key witnesses for the defense, which is why Hurlbert didn’t object to the continuance request.
The two witnesses have been working with the defense attorneys since the end of December, so it isn’t a last-minute effort to buy more time, Hurlbert said.
“I don’t think we can really oppose [the motion],” Hurlbert said. “These are two pretty big witnesses [for the defense].”
Judge R. Thomas Moorhead requested that Moreau waive his right to a speedy trial after granting the continuance.
When asked whether Moreau was willing to waive that right, Moreau, who was wearing a jacket, tie and blue jeans, replied “Yes, your honor.”
The defense has reserved its right to request that the trial be moved to another jurisdiction, although Hurlbert said there’s no indication right now that the defense will move for a new trial venue.
Moreau pleaded not guilty June 10. Owens and Christiansen wanted to wait on the expert analysis before entering a plea, but said they would enter a plea if the court required it.
When asked at the June hearing whether the defense would change Moreau’s not guilty plea once expert reports are available – or whether a new plea could be not guilty by reason of insanity or something else – Owens declined comment.
Moreau has claimed he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of serving in the Vietnam War, and made statements to police on the night of the shooting about suffering from the disorder, according to police reports.
Moreau is accused of shooting Gary Kitching and three others in the Nov. 7 incident. Kitching, 70, of Carbondale, died from his injuries, which included shots to the chest, left thigh and arm. Kitching’s wife, Lani, was hiding behind a couch and under a coffee table about 10 feet from where her husband died, according to police reports.
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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