Judge: Homicide suspect’s comments are admissible | AspenTimes.com

Judge: Homicide suspect’s comments are admissible

A judge accepted into evidence Wednesday two potentially self-incriminating comments a homicide suspect allegedly made to police last October.

At a hearing in Pitkin County District Court, Judge J.E. DeVilbiss said comments made by alleged murderer Andrew Kachik can be used against him during his trial, set for Sept. 23. Kachik is charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 25 shooting death of Thomasville resident Vincent Thomas.

DeVilbiss also ruled that photos taken inside Thomas’ residence after the shooting are admissible. The victim’s brother, Thomasville resident Alan Thomas, testified about the condition of the house both now and just after the shooting.

In Wednesday’s hearing, Joan Durner, a dispatcher in the Aspen/Pitkin County Communications office, testified she spoke with both the victim and Kachik on the phone the night of the shooting. Durner said Kachik told her he was in the house to see his girlfriend and his child, and that he “wasn’t there to start anything.”

Basalt Police Officer Mark Langford testified that he helped set up a roadblock at the base of Frying Pan Road where the suspect was arrested. When Kachik was instructed to exit his vehicle and was handcuffed, he said, “He pulled his pistol out first,” Langford testified. Pitkin County Investigator Ron Ryan also told the court when he asked Kachik for his name at the scene, Kachik replied, “I’m the one you’re looking for.”

One statement the suspect allegedly made to Ryan is still being considered by the judge, since Langford had read him his Miranda rights, but had not gotten a clear answer on whether the suspect would be willing to be interrogated. According to Ryan, when the suspect was asked if he had any injuries, Kachik replied, “I know I’m fucked. I’m going to the penitentiary.”

Public Defender James Conway argued that statement should be suppressed, since Ryan’s question may have elicited an incriminating response when the suspect had not agreed to waive his Miranda rights. DeVilbiss said he would consider the matter and make a ruling at a later date.

Conway also argued that police and investigators did not preserve evidence at the scene that demonstrated what happened the night of the shooting. Specifically, a window with a bullet hole through it and several surfaces in the house riddled with shotgun pellets and blood stains were not preserved long enough for the defense to complete its own investigation, he said.

Alan Thomas told the court that while no one resides in the house, the damaged areas have been replaced or covered up. Prosecutor Lawson Wills argued the crime scene was released well before the repairs were made and Conway had ample time to view the damaged house.

In addition, Wills presented the court with a stack of photos taken at the crime scene, including a dozen of the window with the bullet hole. DeVilbiss ruled in favor of the prosecution, and the photos will be used as evidence during the trial.

In another motion made Wednesday, DeVilbiss ruled that DNA testing on blood found on Kachik’s clothing must be completed by Aug. 16.

Several motions, including a defense motion objecting to searches of the suspect’s pickup and the victim’s home, are being held until a follow-up hearing on July 25.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com.]

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