Kachik testifies about his actions on night of murder
October 2, 2002
Suspected murderer Andrew Kachik took the stand on Tuesday and said he “wasn’t thinking” when he shot Vince Thomas to death last October.
Kachik, 29, at times cried and closed his eyes while remembering the night of the murder. He is charged with first-degree murder, felony murder, burglary and attempted murder.
“It happened fast. I kept taking steps toward him and shooting and shooting until I had no bullets left,” he said. “Then I just stood there, and Kate started to scream and scream and scream.”
Thomas was killed after Kachik shot him three times with a pump-action shotgun. Kachik’s then-girlfriend, Kate Rivers, witnessed the murder and ran for cover as Kachik reloaded his gun and shot at her, prosecutors say.
Kachik also told the jury that he shot at the window of the home from the outside, not knowing where Rivers was at the time. He said when he went inside the house he heard Rivers screaming from the bathroom, so he shot twice at the doorknob in order to enter the room.
Rivers, who testified she hid behind the bathroom door fearing she was going to die, also told the jury Kachik came in the room after firing, saying she was lucky to be alive, because if he had more bullets she would be dead, too.
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Kachik disputed this, saying he told Rivers, “If I wanted you dead, bitch, you’d be dead. Look at what you’ve made your boyfriend do.”
The prosecution and defense rested their cases on Tuesday in the weeklong murder trial. Closing arguments are expected to be delivered this morning, and the jury should be given the case to deliberate.
On the witness stand, Kachik recalled how he brought Rivers and her two young daughters to Colorado from Franklin, Pa., last August. Renting a trailer together in Meredith, Kachik found a job in carpentry and said Rivers began working at the Meredith Store for Thomas.
Kachik told the jury he became jealous of the friendship between Rivers and Thomas, and it became the root of many arguments with his girlfriend. On Oct. 25, when Rivers moved out of his house and into Thomas’ house, Kachik said he decided to drive to Thomas’ house to kiss his two young children good night.
On cross-examination, District Attorney Mac Meyers pointed out many instances in which Kachik could have made different choices on the night of the murder. In order to get a conviction for first-degree murder, jurors must agree that Kachik’s actions occurred after deliberation.
Kachik said Thomas pointed a handgun at him the first time he entered the house and later had a “smirk” on his face ? thoughts Kachik said were running through his head as he drove home to pick up his shotgun. Kachik also said he “couldn’t believe it” when he saw Rivers and Thomas naked in the bathroom together through an outside window when he first got to the house.
Kachik also said Thomas told him he was “wasting his time” talking to Rivers that night, and that he “didn’t deserve” his family, thereby provoking him into the attack.
Prosecutors argue Kachik never saw the couple in the bathroom that night, and that Thomas hadn’t provoked his killer. Meyers also said it was Thomas’ right to protect his house from an intruder with his handgun, which he had with him when he was murdered.
On Tuesday morning the prosecution’s final witness, forensic pathologist Dr. Robert Kurtzman, showed autopsy photos to the jury. Kurtzman described how a shotgun fires and the types of wounds it can produce based on distance from the shooter to the target.
Kurtzman said he determined Thomas received one shot directly to his chest, which knocked him to the floor. Individual wounds do not indicate that Thomas’ arm was up, pointing his gun at his attacker, he said.
Thomas then received a “defensive wound” on his left shin, probably while trying to cover his body up, Kurtzman said.
The last shot was directly into Thomas’ head, Kurtzman said, and was made at point-blank range based on his research. Known as a “contact wound,” it indicates that Kachik was holding the gun barrel against Thomas’ head when he pulled the trigger.
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]