Cold-blooded killer or self-defense? | VailDaily.com
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Cold-blooded killer or self-defense?

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado
Eagle County Sheriff's OfficeCharles Gross
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EAGLE ” Charles Gross fired his gun with “cold-bloodedness” when he killed Maria Madrid two years ago, prosecutors said Monday in their closing statements at his murder trial.

Gross’ defense attorneys re-enforced testimony he gave earlier in the day that he acted in self defense when he also shot Madrid’s husband, Eliseo, as the couple and their teenage son drove away from a Dotsero camp site in a pickup truck.

Terry O’Connor, an attorney for Gross, 57, asked jurors to put themselves in the position of Gross, who testified that after approaching the family’s truck to complain about trash, he saw Eliseo Madrid reach for something and then drive toward him.

Prosecutors said they want jurors to find Gross guilty of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree attempted murder and also second-degree assault with a deadly weapon because Gross shot and killed Maria Madrid, attempted to kill Eliseo and Joel Madrid, and shot Eliseo Madrid in the shoulder.

Twelve jurors began deliberating shortly after 3 p.m. Monday.

“This is about rage, not fear,” said Assistant District Attorney Karen Romeo.

Returning from his hike, Gross was angry that the Madrid’s were playing music and that they left some trash behind, prosecutors said.

“How can you say that that’s self defense when this man was retreating?” said Romeo, referring to Gross’ testimony that he shot at the family as Eliseo Madrid drove in reverse out of the camp site.

Gross acted with “extreme indifference” when he killed Maria Madrid, Romeo said.

“He just didn’t care a lot,” she said. “He kept firing as this car was retreating in an attempt to kill everyone in that truck.”

O’Connor said it’s more believable that Gross fired his gun because he feared for his life than to believe that Gross shot a stranger about some leftover trash.

“He’s never seen these people or met these people in his life,” O’Connor said.

Gross walked toward Madrid’s campfire and Eliseo Madrid drove the truck toward Gross, O’Connor said.

“Mr. Gross was put in what he thought was a life-threatening situation,” O’Connor said.

Gross had five bullets in his gun and could have shot the last one, but he did not, O’Connor said.

“He stops firing when he believes the situation to be safe,” O’Connor said.

Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert in a rebuttal to the defense’s closing statement, reminded the jury Gross did not see Eliseo Madrid with a weapon.

“It was probably a gearshift,” said Hurlbert, pointing out that the pickup truck had a manual transmission.

And if Gross thought he was in danger, he could have run past the large rocks that ring the campsite instead of shooting, Hurlbert said.


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