Vail shooter’s not guilty plea may change before trial
EAGLE, Colorado – Richard “Rossi” Moreau, the man charged with eight felonies including first-degree murder for the Nov. 7 shooting of Carbondale doctor Gary Kitching at the Sandbar in West Vail, pleaded not guilty in an Eagle County courtroom Thursday.
Moreau was in court Thursday but did not speak during any portion of the hearing.
Moreau’s public defenders, Reed Owens and Dana Christiansen, told Judge R. Thomas Moorhead they would rather wait on various reports and analysis by experts retained by Moreau before entering a plea, but would enter a plea if the court required it.
Owens wouldn’t comment on what kinds of experts the defense has retained. The defense has the opportunity to change the not guilty plea once it obtains its expert reports, but when asked, Owens wouldn’t comment on whether the new plea would be not guilty by reason of insanity or something else.
One defense motion seeking bail for Moreau requested the court hold a “proof evident, presumption great” hearing, which requires more proof than a probable cause hearing.
Thursday’s hearing was a continuation of a May 28 motions hearing in which police officers and other responders to the crime scene last November testified about police processes following the shooting. Avon Police Lt. Greg Daly and Vail Police Det. Justin Dill testified Thursday as part of the continuation of that hearing.
The prosecution argued that Moreau was the shooter on Nov. 7 through police testimony and surveillance video from the Sandbar, which was replayed in court Thursday.
“The people have showed that the defendant committed the crime,” said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
Moorhead ruled to deny bail, citing that proof was evident and presumption great that Moreau committed the crime.
The defense also filed several motions to suppress evidence, citing mistakes in police procedures like Miranda rights and search warrants.
Moorhead denied all of the defense’s evidence-suppression motions, except for a motion to suppress evidence seized through a search warrant of Darlene Hoffman’s cell phone. Hoffman is Moreau’s friend and a former therapist whom he called immediately after the shooting.
Moorhead didn’t rule on that warrant because he wanted more time to read cases that the defense team cited as precedent-setting, he said.
Hurlbert and Christiansen agreed to draft questions for a juror questionnaire. Moorhead said jurors would be brought into court on Sept. 17, the Friday before the trial begins, to answer questions that could either immediately exclude potential jurors or qualify them for the trial.
The defense team also reserved the right to eventually request a venue change for the trial if they found that necessary, Christiansen said.
Moorhead plans to rule on remaining motions at an Aug. 11 hearing. The pre-trial conference for the case is set for Aug. 20, and the trial is set to begin Sept. 20.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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