Life without parole for murderer | AspenTimes.com

Life without parole for murderer

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Andrew Kachik holds his family pictures as he is escorted to the court house for sentancing Tuesday afternoon. Daniel Bayer photo.

Andrew Kachik received two life sentences plus 36 years in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday for the murder of Vince Thomas and the attempted murder of former girlfriend Kate Rivers.

Chief Judge Thomas Ossola of the 9th District Court handed down the sentence after a two-hour hearing at the Pitkin County Courthouse that included tearful statements from family members of the two men.

Kachik shot and killed Thomas, a Thomasville resident, on Oct. 25, 2001, and was convicted by a jury on four charges ? first-degree murder, felony murder, attempted murder and burglary ? on Oct. 2 of this year.

Saying the first-degree murder and attempted murder charges “most speak to the conduct of the defendant,” Ossola sentenced Kachik to life without the possibility of parole. An identical sentence was handed down for the charge of felony murder.

On the charge of attempted murder, Kachik received 24 years. Lastly, for the burglary charge, Ossola handed down a sentence of 12 years.

“One of the most daunting tasks for a judge is the passing of a sentence where a person or persons have lost their life or come close to,” Ossola told the courtroom before the sentencing. “For loss of life, there is absolutely nothing the court can do to restore anyone’s loss, but it is consistent that murder is defined as the most serious of the criminal offenses.”

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Kachik wore the orange pants and shirt issued by the Pitkin County Jail during the hearing, and a cross and rosary beads hung around his neck. He winked at his small daughter on the way into the courtroom, who later had to be carried out of the room by a family friend after the toddler was speaking loudly.

While addressing the judge in the courtroom, Kachik cried aloud and made several statements about the importance he places on family, and that he wasn’t in his “right mind” on the night of the shooting.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I even closely understand the loss that Mr. Thomas’ family has suffered, but I would like to say I do feel pain for their loss. I never wanted Mr. Vince Thomas dead,” he said. “Words can’t explain how truly sorry I am for all of the people who have suffered.”

Kachik’s mother and brother also spoke on his behalf, asking the court to consider his three children before sentencing him to life in prison.

On the other side of the courtroom, sitting behind the prosecution, several of Thomas’ family members stood to speak for their deceased loved one.

“[Kachik] needs to understand that he took a child from me,” said JoAnn Peters, Thomas’ mother. “He can still see his child, and his mother can visit him. But Vince is gone, and he was a good man, a good son and a caring, loving individual. I think Mr. Kachik needs to understand the pain he caused not only this family, but his. I can’t even imagine what his mother feels like.”

Thomas’ brothers, Alan and Vaughn, also stood and spoke.

“We believe in justice, and we want to continue to believe in it,” Vaughn Thomas said. “We want Andrew Kachik to know what he did was a horrible thing, and he must pay for it.”

Kachik’s former girlfriend, Kate Rivers, spoke to the court, apologizing to both families for losses on both sides, which she said she felt “could have been avoided if it wasn’t for my own decisions.”

“I carry a certain amount of blame, and I see that every time I look at my child,” she said. “Her father won’t be able to see her.”

Rivers asked Ossola not to give Kachik more of a sentence beyond life in prison, saying “I don’t think you can give him anymore,” and that “our God is our jury and our judge.” After the hearing, Rivers told The Aspen Times she still loves Kachik but does not understand his actions on the night of the murder.

Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills had requested a sentence of life in prison plus 30 years.

“We took the position that this guy is a significant risk to public safety,” Wills said after the sentencing. “We have great satisfaction that this guy will not be on the streets again.”

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