Judge calls Pedro Gonzalez attempted murder case ‘unexplainable’ in handing down 42-year sentence
July 19, 2018
EAGLE — Pedro Gonzalez savagely beat Dita Richterova. He admitted it, and security video showed him doing it.
But "why" remains a mystery even to District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman, who sentenced Gonzalez to 42 years in prison Thursday afternoon, July 19.
"This case is so unexplainable. I listened to the whole trial, and I still have no understanding of why," Dunkelman said. "Some actions are so egregious, so brutal, that it defines you. This act unfortunately defines you for the rest of your life. The damage you've done to yourself, the damage you've done to Ms. Richterova — it's all you. No one else."
Dunkelman spoke directly to the victim, saying her strength, emotional and physical, to fight off the attack — which went from room to room through the bar and into the street — is the reason she is still alive.
"You say you once saw yourself as a strong person. You're still that strong person," Dunkelman told Richterova as he handed down Gonzalez' sentence.
Lives forever changed
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Richterova, a Czech Republic native, sat at the prosecution table, tearing up slightly as she told Dunkelman what happened that night and what her life has been like since Gonzalez' drunken two-minute rampage, 1:18 to 1:20 a.m. in Eagle's Brush Creek Saloon on July 24, 2017.
"In a few days, it will be one year since the attack, one year since the day I thought I was going to die," she said, breaking into tears. "I think it can affect my entire life, for the rest of my life. … I feel so different."
Dental work restored her dazzling smile, but the emotional scars run much deeper.
She was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. She still sees a psychiatrist and is on medication for depression and other problems.
"Sometimes I think danger is around every corner," she said. "I think about which way would be the best to run."
She said sometimes she thinks random men will attack her. She was alone with her doctor in the hospital for an X-ray of her broken wrist. She said she almost bolted and ran.
"I wish I would not be scared so often. I wish I could meet people. I wish it had not happened, but it did happen, and I have to deal with it," Richterova said. "I get a little bit mad when people told me, after the trial, that it was behind me. It will never be."
Kimberly Wynn, one of Richterova's many friends, described her as "potential personified. … Then she was brutally attacked by Pedro Gonzalez."
"The lens through which Dita sees the world will be forever cracked," Wynn said. "I cannot imagine what her life would be like if this had not happened. … I wish I could help her be as she once was."
It was a normal day, a slow Sunday, and Richterova was working alone in the Brush Creek Saloon. By the time Gonzalez came in, she was trying to close for the night.
"After a few drinks, he asked if I could give him a ride home. I did not think about it at the time. I get asked that a lot," Richterova said.
She finished sweeping the floor and carried the broom to the kitchen to put it away.
The security video shows Gonzalez following her to the kitchen, where he ambushed her and the beating began. He landed around three dozen blows in the first 30 seconds alone.
"I remained polite right up to the moment he hit me with a beer bottle on my head," Richterova said. "Everything told me to defend myself. There was no way he was going to stop."
At one moment, he did stop to place his glasses in a sink. She asked why he was doing this. He did not answer and grabbed her hair to smash her face on that sink, Richterova said. When she twisted away, he caught her and smashed her face on the pool table.
"I know that if I had not escaped, I would die. I did not want to, but I knew I was going to die if I don't stop it somehow," Richterova said.
She did escape and ran home, woke her roommate, ducked into the bathroom and saw her bloodied and bruised in the mirror … "I looked like a zombie," she told Dunkelman.
Gonzalez is right handed. The left side of her face and head were badly beaten.
Eagle Police found him around 6:30 a.m. in his apartment. He was sitting on his bed, drinking a Modello.
Gonzalez claimed he does not remember anything until after he threw the first punch.
Gonzalez says he's sorry
Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum and Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan prosecuted the case. McCollum said this was the most violent case they have seen in six years.
"If she had not escaped, she would be dead," McCollum said, asking for the maximum 48-year sentence. "The town has been shocked by this crime and has become unsettled."
Gonzalez said he was sorry.
"Every day I think about it and what it means to my kids, my wife and what it did to her," Gonzalez said.
"There is nothing he can do to right the effects to Ms. Richterova," Gonzalez' public defender Thea Reiff said.
The question "why?" is answered with his anger and intoxication, Reiff said.
"It's embarrassing and painful for him to realize what one angry act can do," Reiff said.
Eagle Police pleased
"It was noted that Pedro Gonzalez moved to Eagle following his felony convictions in Texas, so he may 'start new'," Eagle Police Chief Joey Staufer said. "His conceptual interpretation of beginning 'new' included his continuation of felonious behavior. He preyed on an innocent victim, in an attempt to extinguish her young life. Blood was spilled in the streets of our community one year ago and the only reason Ms. Richterova was able to speak today is because of her keen desire to survive and the fact that she was able to run faster than her assailant."
Staufer said the court took reasonable consideration of the severity of the incident and impact to both Ms. Richterova and our Eagle River community.
"This horrific crime affected our entire community. This sentence sends a clear message that our community stands united against violence. It is my hope that this sentence brings a sense of closure for Ms. Richterova, her family, friends and to our residents," Staufer said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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