Moreau guilty on all counts in Vail shooting
The Vail Daily
Aspen, CO Colorado
GEORGETOWN, Colo. – Two and a half years after he stormed through the Sandbar in West Vail, killing a Carbondale man and wounding three others, Richard “Rossi” Moreau was found guilty on all eight felony counts he faced.
The jury’s guilty verdicts began with the first-degree murder charge almost 10 hours after they got the case at 11:45 a.m. Friday. When it was read, Moreau’s head bowed forward. He showed no other emotion.
On his suede sports jacket, Moreau wore military insignias, the kind found on military. Ironically, his murder victim, Dr. Gary Kitching, served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam era.
About 10 feet behind him, his murder victim’s widow, Lani Kitching, smiled with quiet dignity, standing tall as friends around her quietly broke into tears when the verdicts were read.
District Judge Tom Moorhead polled the jury of eight men and four women, asking each member if it was his or her true verdict. Each answered with a clearly voiced “yes.”
“We’re relieved. For two and a half years everyone worked hard, the DA’s office, the Vail police – everyone involved,” said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
In the end, the video of the shootings and Moreau’s interrogation by Vail police detectives was too much. That security video showed Moreau shooting and killing Kitching, and shooting and wounding three others during a Nov. 7, 2009, rampage through the Sandbar.
He shot Kitching three times, twice after Kitching was wounded and lying bleeding on the Sandbar floor.
The Kitchings were on their way home to Carbondale when they stopped in the Sandbar to watch a college football game featuring USC, Gary Kitching’s alma mater.
With the conviction, Moreau is automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Moreau had claimed he suffered a blackout triggered by the post-traumatic stress disorder he claimed resulted from his time in the war in Vietnam.
“If this is a Vietnam flashback, I don’t know of any military training that teaches you to walk back into an ambush,” Hurlbert said.
Defense attorney Dana Christiansen, one of the two public defenders along with Reed Owens representing Moreau, said the prosecution’s evidence, including the video, did not address Moreau’s mental state.
“It shows a shooting,” Christiansen said. “Proof of the act alone is not sufficient to prove that the defendant had the required culpable mental state. The culpable mental state is as much an element as the act itself and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Hurlbert countered that it does.
“He decides to take that third shot, the shot that killed him (Gary Kitching). He was deliberating, and that’s murder,” Hurlbert said.
Moreau was ejected from the Sandbar after he became hostile and argumentative with other patrons, according to testimony.
As Moreau was walking away from the bar, he turned, fired and hit Jason Barber in the arm. He walked back into the bar and opened fire with his 1911 Springfield semi-automatic .45 caliber handgun.
“He reloaded. That is a man who is deliberating. That is a man intending to kill,” Hurlbert said.
Late in the afternoon, the jury asked to watch the video of Moreau’s interrogation by Vail police investigators.
“I must have killed someone,” Moreau said in the three and a half hour video.
“How many do you think you killed?” Vail Police Detective Justin Dill asked.
“I don’t remember, but it must have been at least one because the body was on the floor in front of me,” Moreau said.
Later in the video, Moreau asked to go to the bathroom.
“Maybe somebody will shoot me on the way out,” he told the two Vail investigators interrogating him.
“No one’s gonna shoot you,” said Vail Detective Ryan Millbern.
“I wish somebody would,” Moreau said.
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.