Vail murder trial faces another delay
Aspen, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. – Judge R. Thomas Moorhead said in District Court on Thursday that Richard “Rossi” Moreau is not likely to go on trial until December, more than two years after the West Vail shooting in which he’s accused of killing Carbondale resident Gary Kitching.
Moreau was not in court Thursday because he has already been transported to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo for a court-ordered mental health evaluation.
That state evaluation is the reason for the new delay in the trial, which was set to begin July 8. The trial had previously been scheduled to begin Feb. 4 with jury selection, and before that delay it was set to begin Sept. 20 of last year.
The first delay was initiated by public defenders Dana Christiansen and Reed Owens because defense mental health experts had not yet completed their evaluations of Moreau.
Once the defense received those reports and shared them with District Attorney Mark Hurlbert and Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Mallory on Dec. 16, the prosecution said they wouldn’t have enough time to review the reports for the Feb. 4 trial date.
And now it’s the state mental health reports that are causing another postponement of the trial.
“We received notice just within the last day that Mr. Moreau has been transported to Pueblo for the purpose of the examination, and we also have received information that the most likely scenario is that a report would be available June 30,” Moorhead said.
With the state’s evaluation not available until just a week before the trial, Christiansen said there wouldn’t be enough time to prepare.
Hurlbert and Mallory said they would be ready by July 8 because their expert would be able to complete an evaluation of the state report within that one-week time period, but deferred the postponement decision to the defense.
Hurlbert asked the court to wait before setting a new trial date because Lani Kitching, the widow of the victim in the case, was not in court Thursday. Hurlbert said they had told her not to come because they didn’t think anything significant would happen in court Thursday.
Moorhead said the court would set a new trial date in a couple of weeks, which would also give the defense time to talk to Moreau before they waive his right to a speedy trial on his behalf.
Moreau has already waived his right to a speedy trial twice, but if a new trial date is set six months or longer from when he last waived the right, he would have to waive that right again.
Moreau last waived his right to a speedy trial in March, and Moorhead told attorneys Thursday that by the looks of the court’s schedule, the new trial date will likely happen beyond that six-month time frame.
“We’re probably talking about December – that’s what we’d be looking at,” Moorhead said.
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