Mental-health expert testifies in Vail murder case |

Mental-health expert testifies in Vail murder case

GEORGETOWN, Colo. – A psychiatrist testifying for the defense Tuesday said Richard “Rossi” Moreau was on a downward spiral in the months leading up to his shooting spree at the Sandbar in West Vail, a spiral that made him feel like a failure who couldn’t dig himself out of his increasing state of depression.

Dr. Richard Martinez, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who also holds many other professional positions within his field, was the key witness for the defense. His testimony supports the defense’s argument that Richard “Rossi” Moreau’s mental state on the night of Nov. 7, 2009, is the reason he should be found not guilty of first-degree murder and seven other felonies because defense attorneys say he couldn’t form the culpable mental state to commit the crimes.

Martinez’s testimony was the longest of any witness during the trial so far, covering everything from Moreau’s history in the Vietnam War, his life afterward, the medications he took in the years and months leading up to the shootings, and his state of mind that night. He testified from just after 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., not including about an hour and a half of breaks.

Defense Attorney Reed Owens said during his opening statements last week that in order to understand someone, you have to have “walked a mile in their shoes.” That’s what Defense Attorney Dana Christiansen tried to do with Martinez on the stand Tuesday – he tried, through Martinez’s testimony, to get the jurors to understand why Moreau did what he did.

Martinez developed his opinion of Moreau’s state of mind and mental history by listening to nearly 4 hours of interrogation video, watching the Sandbar surveillance video from the night of the shooting, two in-person interviews with Moreau, one phone interview, and the analysis of Moreau’s other medical and military records.

Moreau first sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder around 1979, Martinez said – about 10 years after he had returned from 18 months in the Vietnam War. In the war, he was a radio teletyper who called in coordinates for bombings. Martinez also testified that Moreau “had direct combat exposure” during the Tet Offensive.

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