Moreau ordered to mental health institute |

Moreau ordered to mental health institute

NWS Rossi Hearing 1 DT 12-30-09

EAGLE, Colorado – District Court Judge R. Thomas Moorhead said Monday that Richard “Rossi” Moreau could spend as many as 120 days at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo for a court-ordered mental health examination.

Moorhead ordered the examination at a Jan. 26 hearing, but delayed an advisement on the ruling until Monday so he could read briefs from both the prosecution and the defense on what that advisement should include.

An advisement is an explanation of the defendant’s rights, and in this case the advisement surrounding the court-ordered mental exam explained the rules surrounding that ruling and the defendant’s rights related to that ruling.

Moreau has been charged with murder in a 2009 shooting at a West Vail bar that left Gary Bruce Kitching, 70, of Carbondale, dead.

Moorhead said Moreau’s stated intent to introduce evidence concerning his mental condition makes the court-ordered mental exam necessary.

Moorhead asked Moreau to stand at the podium to listen to the court’s advisement, which also included a general advisement that Moreau waived via his attorneys at his first District Court appearance in February 2010.

That advisement regarded Moreau’s basic rights, such as his right to remain silent, right to counsel and right to a jury trial, among other rights.

Mental health exam

The state mental health exam generally takes 90 days, but under some circumstances it could take up to 120 days, Moorhead said.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said after the hearing that the hope is the state mental health exam will not further delay the trial, which has already been delayed twice and is set to begin in July. He said Moreau’s transfer to Pueblo would likely happen as soon as transportation becomes available.

Moorhead said the exam is necessary to obtain relevant information about Moreau’s mental condition at the time of the acts he is accused of committing, as well as his competency to proceed at trial.

“You have placed your mental condition at issue,” Moorhead said as he explained the court’s reasoning for ordering the exam.

Moorhead’s advisement mandates that Moreau “shall cooperate with psychiatrists and other personnel conducting any exam ordered by the court.”

“If you do not cooperate, the court will not allow you to call any psychiatrists or other expert witnesses to provide evidence at the trial concerning your mental condition,” Moorhead said.

Public defender Dana Christiansen said the defense doesn’t fully understand what constitutes “cooperation.”

For example, police reports from the Nov. 7, 2009, shooting at the Sandbar in West Vail, in which Moreau is charged with eight felonies including first degree murder, state that Moreau claims he could not remember many specifics on the night of the incident.

“Mr. Moreau doesn’t recall what occurred that night. Could that be construed as noncooperation if he is unable to discuss the actual events with the psychiatrist or psychologist?” Christiansen said.

Moreau’s failure to cooperate with the state’s mental health examiners would mean he forfeits his ability to call any mental health doctors or experts as witnesses at trial to speak to his mental condition, Moorhead said.

That noncooperation would also be admissible in court to rebut any evidence introduced regarding mental condition, Moorhead said.

“As far as cooperation, the People would say, obviously if he really doesn’t remember I don’t think that’s non-cooperating,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steven Mallory. “However if he’s conveniently forgetting or actively repressing memories, that’s something for the experts to look into and determine whether it’s cooperating or not.”

Moorhead also said the state hospital could use narcotics during interviews if it’s determined such means are medically appropriate and necessary. The state hospital may also subject Moreau to a polygraph, or lie-detector, test.

Defense questions left unanswered

Moorhead did not address Christiansen’s issues Monday, other than to say he would speak to them later.

“Issues raised on Moreau’s behalf are questions that will be brought forward once the court has received the reports, and whether or not any issues need to be raised and rulings made by this court as to admissibility of various evidentiary issues,” Moorhead said.

Moorhead asked Moreau if he understood the court’s advisement of rights.

“Yes, your honor, I do,” Moreau said.

Moreau was also asked whether he wishes to proceed with the presentation of evidence concerning his mental condition.

“Yes, your honor,” Moreau said.

Moorhead ruled that all “discoverable items and evidence” should be made available to the state hospital in Pueblo. Both the prosecution and the defense agreed to make available any such items.

Arguments for and against the defense’s Jan. 24 request for sanctions were not heard Monday, as Christiansen said he had not yet received the prosecution’s response to that motion. Moorhead said those arguments would be heard at the next court date, which is March 17.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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