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Murder suspect spoke of hills and hallucination

EAGLE – Murder suspect Charles Gross made reference to coming down from the hills and swore he hallucinated nights before he was arrested Oct. 10 for allegedly killing 35-year-old Maria Madrid.This scene played out in a video recording shown in an Eagle County courtroom Thursday, where, during a motions hearing, Gross pleaded not guilty to killing Madrid. He faces charges of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree attempted murder and also second-degree assault.Gross offered few details in the video, only mumbling about the hills, hallucination and not eating much food in the period before Madrid’s death.Eagle County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike McWilliam read Miranda Rights to Gross, who twice indicated he wanted an attorney present for questioning. McWilliam then asked Gross at least two questions, but because the questions came after Gross asked for an attorney, 5th Judicial District Court Judge R. Thomas Moorhead ruled the answers won’t be allowed during trial, scheduled to begin Feb. 5.Madrid died Oct. 7 after suffering gunshots to the head and chest. She was allegedly shot while she, her husband Eliseo Madrid and 15-year-old son Joel Madrid were leaving a Deep Creek campsite on Coffee Pot Road north of Dotsero.Gross allegedly approached the Gypsum family’s pickup truck and blamed Eliseo Madrid for not picking up after themselves. Eliseo Madrid has said the family did not leave a mess behind.Eliseo Madrid suffered an arm injury, although McWilliam previously said he is not sure how the injury happened.Attorneys and Moorhead, for four hours, considered more than 50 motions running the gamut of legalese – discussing what will and won’t be allowed during the upcoming trial.Madrid’s family, including Eliseo Madrid, sat patiently but often cried as they have during each of Gross’s court appearances. Gross himself attentively watched the proceedings, taking notes and talking sports with sheriff’s deputies during breaks.Besides the video, the most substantial evidence attorneys on both sides considered were McWilliam’s and former Deputy Jeff Huff’s testimonies.On Oct. 10, deputies found Gross’ truck and camper – based on descriptions Eliseo and Joel Madrid gave about the vehicles they saw at the campground – on a gravel area ranchers use to load cattle near Burns in northern Eagle County, McWilliam said.When McWilliam brought the Madrids to identify the truck and camper, both Eliseo and Joel told McWilliam they saw the gunman in the area, even though deputies had previously ensured no one was there, McWilliam said. Fearing danger, McWilliam, who didn’t see the suspect, and the others left the area.Later, McWilliam and another deputy returned and looked through the windows of the locked camper to see if someone was inside, he said. They didn’t, but to make sure McWilliam pried open the locked camper door and found no one inside.Public defender Dale McPhetres said evidence gained from Gross’s camper and truck should not be included. McWilliam didn’t have a search warrant, there was no connection between the gunman and the camper the Madrids saw, and there was no reason to believe someone was inside the camper, McPhetres said.Moorhead denied McPhetres’ appeal. McPhetres also asked not to include Huff’s testimony that before and after arrest, and during transportation to the Eagle County jail, Gross made admissions to killing Madrid. McPhetres said Huff didn’t properly read Gross his Miranda Rights and Gross didn’t waive those rights when he made remarks actually solicited by Huff.One of the admissions included: “I didn’t mean to kill her. It was rage, pure rage.”Huff said Gross told him this when he held up a newspaper headlined “Gypsum woman shot to death.”Moorhead again disagreed with McPhetres and chose to allow the evidence.Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or jkperry@vaildaily.com.


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