Vail murder suspect’s attorneys say they’ll be unprepared
December 16, 2009
EAGLE, Colo. – Public defenders for Vail murder suspect Richard “Rossi” Moreau said Tuesday they’ll be “ineffective” if the case proceeds as scheduled.
Moreau’s lawyers asked to delay a hearing scheduled for Dec. 30 in which prosecutors will seek to establish probable cause.
Public defender Reed Owens said the defense needs more time to review evidence.
“There’s just so much stuff here, it’s not practical for us to prepare for this preliminary hearing,” Owens said. ” … It’s like we’re going into a boxing match with one hand tied behind our back.”
Eagle County Court Judge Katharine T. Sullivan declined to push back the Dec. 30 hearing, saying that the defense has had sufficient time.
Moreau, 63, of Vail, is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 7 shooting at the Sandbar sports bar in Vail. Gary Bruce Kitching, 70, of Carbondale, died, and three others were injured. Moreau also faces two counts of attempted murder and five other felony charges.
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Prosecutors have submitted an additional 90 pages of “discovery” documents to the defense since the last hearing, on Dec. 1. That brings the total number of pages of discovery to about 1,500. That does not significantly add to the amount of preparation the defense must do, Sullivan said.
Defense attorneys continued to say that they won’t have enough time.
“Just so the court’s aware, we will file a motion stating that we are ineffective,” said public defender Dana Christiansen. “We cannot provide effective counsel for Mr. Moreau. We will be present at the hearing. We will be unable to cross-examine witnesses, but we will certainly show up, just so the record is clear.”
“I don’t understand how two weeks and 1,500 pages makes that big of a difference, Mr. Christiansen,” Sullivan said. “That is really lost on me.”
If prosecutors establish probable cause in the Dec. 30 hearing, the case will be bound over to the courtroom of District Judge Thomas Moorhead. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said he expects to call several police officers to the witness stand and present evidence that was collected at the scene of the shooting.
Prosecutors have 171 total witnesses in the case. They include victims, other Sandbar patrons and employees, police officers and friends and acquaintances of Moreau’s.
Another topic of discussion Tuesday was Moreau’s military records, which prosecutors had subpoenaed. The judge ruled that those records, if obtained, will remain under seal until the case is bound over to district court.
Moreau, who has lived in Vail since 1970, has said that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his Army service during the Vietnam War. Prosecutors say Moreau has claimed he shot the victims as a result of the disorder, according to court documents.
The defense moved to quash the subpoena for the military records, saying prosecutors were conducting a “fishing expedition.”
Christiansen said Tuesday it’s “way too early” to say if post-traumatic stress disorder would be part of a defense.
Moreau, who wore an orange prison uniform and sat beside his attorneys, did not speak during the 10-minute hearing. He continues to be held without bond in the Eagle County jail.