The night of the murder: Witnesses set the scene
Aspen Times Staff Writer
With seven new witnesses as well as crime-scene photos, prosecutors in the murder trial of Andrew Kachik set the scene for the shooting death of Vincent Thomas in Pitkin County District Court on Thursday.
The victim’s brother, Thomasville resident Alan Thomas, testified he and his family heard a gunshot on the night of Oct. 25, so he left his house to walk next door ? to Vincent’s house ? to investigate and saw a pickup truck racing out of the driveway and taking off down Frying Pan Road toward Basalt.
Getting closer to the house, he said he heard someone “just hysterical” and saw a woman upstairs screaming on the phone about Vincent being killed. Although Thomas did not know Kachik’s girlfriend, Kate Rivers, at the time, the woman’s voice on the dispatch tape was played for jurors in court on Wednesday.
Rivers had moved into Vincent Thomas’ house that day, and attorneys say Kachik broke into the house, killing Thomas and firing his shotgun three times at Rivers without hitting her.
“I ran back to my house to tell my wife what was going on,” Alan Thomas said. “I told her, ‘I think Vince is dead,’ to call 911 and to stay in the house.”
Going back over to his brother’s house, Thomas said he found Rivers on the stairs to the attic, and he paused and his voice broke before he described finding his brother on the floor and checking with two fingers to see if he had a pulse.
District Attorney Mac Meyers also showed Alan Thomas a photo of his brother lying on the floor of his house after being shot. Thomas looked at the photo, confirming that it was the way he found his brother at the scene.
After being shown the photo, Thomas took a long look at defendant Andrew Kachik, who sat just 15 feet away at the defense table, wearing a suit.
Kachik is charged with first-degree murder and other related charges. A few members of his family sat a couple of rows behind him in the courtroom.
On the other side of the courtroom sat two full rows of Thomas’ family.
Alan Thomas described his brother as an entrepreneur who managed the Meredith Store during the days but also had a separate business dying clothing, and he said his brother was an accomplished jeweler who had just finished emergency medical technician training for his work as a volunteer firefighter with the local fire district.
Darren Jewkes, who investigated the crime scene for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, was presented as an expert in crime-scene analysis as the prosecution’s seventh witness. Jewkes said he and a co-worker investigated Thomas’ house at 5 a.m. on Oct. 26, just after a search warrant was obtained for the scene.
Jewkes reported seeing broken glass in the living room, shotgun shells on the floor and many “impact patterns” where the ammunition struck walls, doors and the floor. He said shots fired at the bathroom door went all the way through the door and hit a vanity in the small room.
Several photos of the crime scene, the shells themselves and a phone Thomas was holding when he was shot were admitted into evidence ? the phone had been shattered when Thomas was shot in the head. Jurors watched a brief video of the crime scene, depicting the house before and after CBI worked in the area.
The crime-scene investigation included collecting Thomas’ Glock 9 mm handgun, located roughly three to four feet away from Thomas’ body on the floor. The gun had bullets in its magazine, Jewkes said, but was not ready to fire since there was no bullet in the chamber.
District Court Judge J.E. DeVilbiss stopped Jewkes from demonstrating how to load the gun with the magazine in open court, although there were no bullets in the gun.
Public defender James Conway noted that Kachik could not have known whether Thomas’ gun was ready to fire, since it is impossible to tell if the gun is loaded by looking at it.
Other testimony on Wednesday came from several law enforcement officials who spoke about securing the crime scene and arresting Kachik at a roadblock on Frying Pan Road.
Kachik’s neighbor said he saw the defendant drive quickly to his house and then leave on the night of the murder ? concurring with the prosecution’s story that Kachik drove back to his house to get his shotgun before the murder.
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