Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@cmnm.org

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March 9, 2012
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Moreau interrogation video plays in court

GEORGETOWN, Colorado - Richard "Rossi" Moreau told police hours after the shootings at the Sandbar Nov. 7, 2009, that he couldn't remember what happened. He immediately talked about post-traumatic stress disorder and said he "had nothing to live for."

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert and Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Mallory called police officers to the witness stand Friday - officers who had responded to the scene at the Sandbar and interacted with him after the shootings that night.

The prosecuting attorneys also played the video of Moreau's interview with Vail police officers Justin Dill and Ryan Millbern on the night of the shooting. Jurors watched closely at what Moreau had to say about his actions.

The video shows the officers sitting with Moreau in a small interrogation room with white walls and nothing more than a table and three chairs inside. Moreau wore an orange jumpsuit, as his clothing from earlier in the evening had been seized as evidence. Dill brought him a cup of black coffee and Moreau waived his right to have an attorney present.

"I killed some people, didn't I," Moreau said when they entered the interrogation room.

Interrogation

Moreau went on, rambling at times, talking about his medications - specifically a sleep medication he had been prescribed fairly recently that he said made him hallucinate. He said he stopped taking it, but continued to have hallucinations as recently as a few days before the shootings.

He spoke of being a Vietnam veteran and about suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he had trouble sleeping, and that he has lost all of the people he cares about in his life.

"I've been thinking about suicide for about six months," Moreau said.

He said he couldn't remember what happened inside the Sandbar. He remembered getting ready to leave his home, putting two loaded magazines in his pants along with his .45 caliber gun. He told Dill that it was abnormal for him to have brought along the magazines, although not abnormal for him to carry a gun.

As Moreau spoke to detectives for hours in that room, he talked about the economic downturn and his growing inability to support himself with his veteran disability check and Social Security payments. He talked of his life at home - that he was lonely, felt disrespected by the government and Veterans Affairs, and felt like he had given up on life in general.

He spoke about Vietnam and about the medications he has been on almost ever since. He got frustrated when detectives asked him for more details about the shooting, repeating that he simply couldn't remember.

"I do not remember what happened - I'm telling you guys the truth," Moreau said.

As the interrogation went on, Moreau did seem to remember some details, though. He said he couldn't remember anything about the shooting, but then he said the gun's safety lock was on.

"I had to de-cock it and load a round in before I shot," Moreau said.

That, he remembered, and Dill called him out on that, but Moreau maintained that he couldn't remember anything more.

Moreau also later said that he didn't remember reloading - something police hadn't told him he had done. Dill asked why he thought he reloaded, to which Moreau replied, "That's who I am - military."

The next thing Moreau said he remembers during the interrogation was that he was sitting on the ground in the Sandbar, under a table, and he could see what looked like a dead body nearby and the police lights outside. He knew, at that point, he had done something wrong, he said.

He then said he had an immediate thought to go make sure "the son of a bitch" was dead.

That's when Lani Kitching, the widow of Dr. Gary Kitching - the man Moreau is accused of killing that night - couldn't hear another word and walked out of the courtroom.

Police testimony

Attorneys alluded to many variables Friday during the fourth day of witness testimony in the Richard "Rossi" Moreau trial - variables for the reasons, or lack thereof, of why Moreau allegedly went on the shooting rampage.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert and Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Mallory called police officers to the witness stand Friday - officers who had responded to the scene at the Sandbar and interacted with him after the shootings that night.

Hurlbert wanted to know Moreau's demeanor and what he said to officers - statements that Moreau made that were coherent and thoughtful. Public defenders Dana Christiansen and Reed Owens also wanted to know what Moreau said to officers that night, but they focused on the statements he made about post-traumatic stress disorder, the Vietnam War and veterans.

The arguments each side is making in the case were obvious as of Friday morning: The prosecution is arguing that Moreau acted deliberately that night - that he knew exactly what he was doing. The defense argues that Moreau, a Vietnam veteran, suffers from a mental illness - post-traumatic stress disorder - and because of that condition did not have the mental capacity to form intent after deliberation.

On the night of Nov. 7, 2009, police arrived at the Sandbar in West Vail and eventually apprehended Moreau after the shootings. Witnesses have testified this week about Moreau's actions and demeanor as a bar patron in the Sandbar before the shootings, as well as during the shootings. Friday's testimony shined a light onto what happened that night from a law enforcement perspective.

The Eagle County Special Operations Unit, or SWAT team, arrived on scene and eventually apprehended Moreau. Vail Police Officer Ryan Millbern later asked Moreau if he needed some medical attention. Moreau said he wanted to see a specific doctor at the Veterans Affairs hospital, Millbern said.

Moreau then mentions post-traumatic stress disorder from the Vietnam War.

But Millbern testified Friday that Moreau, who initially seemed agitated and was screaming and yelling as he lay handcuffed on the floor of the Sandbar, was also coherent.

Of the various officers who testified - Dill, Millbern, Lt. Greg Daly from the Avon Police Department and the commander of the county's special operations unit that responded to the scene, Vail Police officer Carrie Bergeron, Vail Sgt. Bill Clausen, and former Avon officer Phillip Florio - almost all of them remembered things Moreau said that night.

Millbern testified that Moreau both stated that he killed people and then asked if he had killed people. Millbern said Moreau seemed coherent, too.

"He seemed lucid - not only trying to converse with me, but with others walking by," Millbern said.

Florio testified that Moreau said "they were going to fry him for this and that he was never going to get out."

Clausen remembered Moreau saying something like, "Do you know how long I've been trying not to do this - nobody listens."

Bergeron remembers Moreau asking if "this is what it takes for someone to pay attention to what (post-traumatic stress disorder) is."

And on the police interrogation tape, Moreau said "maybe there is no why - maybe I just flipped out."

"I didn't pull that gun to shoot anyone in particular," Moreau said.

The trial continues Monday morning with the remainder of the police interrogation video and more prosecution witnesses.

Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 9, 2012 09:57PM Published Mar 9, 2012 09:56PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.