Kachik jurors tell of intense deliberation
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Convicting Andrew Kachik of first-degree murder was a “difficult” decision made in seven intense hours, jurors said Thursday.
According to one member of the jury, the 12 jurors were split almost down the middle as to whether or not the crime constituted first-degree murder when they entered the jury room. After hours of discussion, the juror said they finally came to consensus. Jurors agreed to speak about the case on the condition their names not be used.
“We went around the room again and again talking about why everybody saw it they way they saw it,” the juror said. “It probably took six of the seven hours to get a consensus on that topic. It was what the case was about.”
Kachik was charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Thomasville resident Vince Thomas last Oct. 25. He was also convicted of felony murder and first-degree burglary, as well as attempted first-degree murder after shooting at his then-girlfriend, Kate Rivers.
The nine men and three women that made up the jury delivered their verdict at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.
No question was ever made of whether Kachik killed Thomas, but public defenders asked the jury for a second-degree murder conviction, saying the crime occurred in the “heat of passion.” For a first-degree murder verdict, prosecutors had to prove that Kachik deliberated on his actions before following through with the murder.
“I kind of think there has been an evolution in the definition of a ‘crime of passion,'” the juror said. “Probably 75 years ago, it would have been a crime of passion, and he would have gotten off. We struggled hard with that question.”
The question was an easier one for some jurors ? one recalled having no problem with the decision once all the evidence was taken into consideration.
“There was no question about deliberation ? it was murder with deliberation,” this juror said. “There was a lot of evidence, and we considered everything and deliberated. We were extremely thorough in comparing our notes ? what we heard and understood. We were a very unified jury.”
Incidentally, one juror said none of the jury believed that Kachik ever saw his girlfriend and the murder victim together in the bathroom that night ? an incident that defense attorneys said lead to Kachik’s passionate rage.
The first juror said ultimately, the jury looked closely at Kachik’s actions on the night of the shooting.
“I think the point that convinced everyone was realizing that Andrew Kachik had many opportunities to change his mind, to wake up and say, ‘What the hell am I doing?'” the juror said. “And other than saying [on the witness stand] he wished he’d done things differently, he never showed any real remorse for the crime, other than blaming it on Kate. I think that stuck in people’s minds.”
Kachik himself testified that after shooting Thomas and firing his shotgun at Rivers, he entered the bathroom and said to her, “Look at what you’ve made your boyfriend do.”
Altogether, jurors said it was an emotionally charged case, and gripping testimony paired with crime scene photos made for a troubling trial.
“I think a lot of jurors took it seriously, and personally,” the first juror said. “But I think he got a more fair trial than he would have in most communities because the jury was so concerned about doing the right thing, and we feel proud about what we did. This kid made stupid mistakes, and did he deserve to lose his life for it? We had to make that decision.”
As a side note, this juror commented that during the cool-off period just before the jury delivered the verdict, members discussed how it took law enforcement a long time to reach the scene of the crime.
“Several people pointed out how stupid it is that it took the sheriff’s department an hour to get there, and if that community was served by some police force less than an hour away, this crime might not have happened,” the juror said. “What sense does it make that Thomasville is in Pitkin County?”
One juror said prosecutors did an excellent job, and the defense “did as good as they could with what they had to deal with, but at the end you could see them grasping at straws.”
A third juror said ultimately the jury felt it did the right thing after hearing a week’s worth of evidence.
“I will say it was a difficult process, and we did put a lot of thought into it,” the juror said. “But we feel we made the right decision.”
Putting it another way, a juror said the work they put in over the past two weeks while working at their own jobs on evenings and weekends was part of their civic duty.
“We are satisfied that we did our duty, that we did it the way the system asked us to do this, and the way the law demanded that we do it,” the juror said.
“It was really interesting,” said another juror. “It’s a life experience everyone should get an opportunity to have ? the system works great. So many people at jury selection were saying they’d do anything to get out of it, but it shouldn’t be that way. If I was [Kachik], I wouldn’t want a bunch of pissed-off people up there.”
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