Kachik guilty on all counts | AspenTimes.com

Kachik guilty on all counts

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Vince Thomas

Andrew Kachik was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday night for the shooting death of Thomasville resident Vince Thomas last October.

The jury also convicted Kachik on the three other charges he was facing: felony murder, attempted first-degree murder and burglary. The mandatory sentence for a first-degree murder conviction is life without parole.

After deliberating for seven hours, jurors returned to Pitkin County District Court with the verdicts at 7:15 p.m.

Kachik stood with his attorneys to receive the verdict. He looked up at the ceiling and cried softly as the decisions were read by Judge Thomas Ossola. His mother, seated two rows back from him, sobbed into her hands.

According to evidence presented during the trial, Kachik moved to Meredith up the Fryingpan River Valley with his girlfriend, Kate Rivers, last summer from Pennsylvania. When Rivers decided to move with her two children into Thomas’ home temporarily last October, Kachik went to Thomas’ residence and fatally shot him with a shotgun and then shot at Rivers.

The reaction was quiet on the other side of the courtroom, where nearly three rows of Thomas’ family sat wearing purple ribbons pinned to sweaters and lapels in memory of their lost loved one. Many relatives embraced and clasped hands quietly, leaving the courtroom only after hugging and shaking hands with members of the prosecution.

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“My brother would be very proud of what’s happened here today,” said Alan Thomas, Vince’s older brother. “It’s been quite a roller coaster, and with this trial ending hopefully it will help bring closure. My brother will always be around.”

Vince Thomas was described during the trial as an entrepreneur, an accomplished jeweler and a dedicated member of the local fire district. He was 40 at the time of his death.

Speaking with family members crowded closely around in the cold, damp night outside the courthouse, Alan Thomas said his family would like to thank the city of Aspen for its hospitality, and the defense team and the prosecutors for their support and hard work.

“Mostly we thank the jurors, because this had to be a hell of a thing to go through,” he said.

But as a whole, Thomas said the family feels that justice has been served with the verdicts.

“It’s very warming to me to know that Andrew Kachik won’t walk the streets for a very long time,” he said, adding that the family will be back in the courtroom for Kachik’s Nov. 5 sentencing.

District Attorney Mac Meyers said he felt the jury took time to go through the evidence thoroughly and weigh the prosecution’s “abundance” of facts about the night of the shooting with the issues defense attorneys raised. Over the past 11 months, the prosecution team said they have had time to really get to know the Thomas family.

“They lost Vince, and no court procedure will ever bring Vince back,” Meyers said.

Although the verdict was what the prosecution had worked for during the weeklong trial, Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills indicated the decision was not joyful.

“With this verdict no one is happy. There is one person who died, one who was irreparably harmed and a guy who is going to spend his life in prison,” Wills said. “It’s certainly not a happy situation.”

As it was throughout the trial, security was tight in the courtroom for the reading of the verdict. Five armed members of the police and sheriff’s offices stood at the rear of the courtroom, as well as three at the front.

Several officers escorted Kachik back to the Pitkin County Jail, where he will be held until being sentenced.

Closing statements from both attorneys began the day for jurors, just before they received the case to deliberate. Public Defender James Conway asked that the jurors return with a second-degree murder conviction, since it was not disputed that Kachik killed Thomas.

And Conway said prosecutors had not proven that Kachik killed Thomas with intent and after deliberation, as is necessary for a first-degree murder conviction.

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