EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - District Attorney Mark Hurlbert stands by his decision to include excerpts from Richard "Rossi" Moreau's mental health evaluations in a Dec. 30 motion that was filed in the murder case.
Hurlbert filed a response Wednesday to public defender Dana Christiansen's request for sanctions, which was made last week. Christiansen's motion claimed that Hurlbert and Deputy District Attorney Steven Mallory strategically misled the press by including excerpts from the mental health reports in their motion, knowing the Vail Daily would quote from the motions.
The defense's request for sanctions accuses Hurlbert and Mallory of trying to taint the potential jury pool by including the excerpts. The motion also claims the excerpts were taken out of context.
Hurlbert's response filed Wednesday afternoon reviews each of the 10 statements that were included in the Dec. 30 request for discovery. The response states that reviewing each motion is prudent in order to justify why the prosecution used each statement, as well as to show the excerpts were not taken out of context, the motion says.
The statements, which were made in two mental health reports by the mental health experts retained by the defense, were used in the Dec. 30 motion because the prosecution was trying to prove the basis and relevance in asking for specific records held by the defense.
"Those statements show the (mental health) reports were used when making their final (expert) opinions - that means it's relevant to us to get those documents," Hurlbert said Wednesday.
Calls to public defenders Christiansen and Reed Owens were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.
The prosecution response says that several statements in the mental health reports that go toward Moreau's guilt were not used because they did not advance the argument for obtaining the documents requested in the Dec. 30 motion, which include military records and medical records.
The defense's request for sanctions motion, however, identifies the statements as "unnecessary and irrelevant."
"The prosecution's attempt to influence potential jurors is sufficient that a change of venue may be necessary," according to the defense motion for sanctions.
Hurlbert said these kinds of claims would typically be made either in writing or in court. The motion was filed Dec. 30 and was heard in court on Jan. 5, giving the defense plenty of time to object, Hurlbert said.
"If this was such a big issue, it would be dealt with at the first opportunity," Hurlbert said.
The response also says that the 10 statements, only half of which were quoted in the Vail Daily, wouldn't influence the citizens and potential jurors of Eagle County.
"The defense has no evidence that either the undersigned or (Chief Deputy District Attorney) Mallory are engaging in this nefarious conspiracy with the Vail Daily to taint a potential Eagle County jury pool using statements from defense reports. Therefore, the motion (requesting sanctions) should be denied," Hurlbert wrote in his response.
District Court Judge R. Thomas Moorhead will hear arguments for the motion and the response from both the defense and the prosecution in court Monday.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.