Defense expert points to ‘perfect storm’
GEORGETOWN, Colorado – Richard “Rossi” Moreau was suffering from medication-induced delirium the night he shot four people in the Sandbar, a clinical psychologist testified Thursday at Moreau’s murder trial.
It was “a perfect storm,” said Dr. Earnest Boswell, a clinical psychologist with the Veterans Administration counseling center, where he helps work with returning soldiers as they return to civilian life.
As that November night went on, Moreau’s consciousness became “clouded” and “fragmented,” stemming from a combination of medication, previous delirium a few days before and alcohol, Boswell said
“Then he went to the Sandbar,” Boswell said.
Boswell interviewed Moreau for three and a half hours in the Eagle County jail, examined other reports, journals, police reports and other information. He was testifying as an expert witness for the defense.
“I reached the conclusion that he has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Boswell said.
PTSD requires a traumatic event, and Moreau’s was his Vietnam experience, Boswell said.
Moreau does not reach the level of insanity, and his diagnosis agrees with every other he has seen about Moreau, Boswell said. To be considered insane, someone has to be unable to determine right from wrong, even after an action. In police interviews, Moreau clearly said something terrible had happened, and that he had been part of it, Boswell said.
Boswell said Moreau’s PTSD is late-onset and chronic, becoming more pronounced in the past few years. Moreau also suffers from alcohol dependence, a substance abuse problem and was on a program of self-medication, Boswell said, calling the problems psychotic and hallucinogenic in nature.
Today was the last day of testimony in the Georgetown murder trial. Closing arguments are expected today.
Moreau was cheerful and talkative when he arrived at the Sandbar around 5 p.m., witnesses said.
“There’s something wrong with Mr. Moreau, but he was able to hold it together,” Boswell said.
He became more hostile and argumentative as the evening went on, Boswell said.
“The more alcohol he uses and the more medication he takes, the more his thinking experiences decomposition,” Boswell said.
Moreau was sitting at the bar when he saw a child walk by and said, “I can’t believe they think I molested that child.” It was then that some bar patrons surrounded him and were trying to push him out of the bar.
Moreau fell, got up and fell again. He regressed to a point where it was friend and foe, a very primitive brain function, and he responded to a threat-index situation, Boswell said.
“He came up shooting,” Boswell said.
Moreau did not act after deliberation; he was acting at an emotional level only, and could not function at a level to form specific intent, Boswell said.
A security video shows Moreau stalking around the bar amid pandemonium, with a 1911 Springfield .45 caliber handgun, killing Dr. Gary Kitching and wounding three others.
“Video only shows what a person does. It does not show why they do it,” Boswell said.
Boswell served in the military, May 23, 1968 to March 1971, serving in Vietnam.
He said he’s not a vet looking out for a vet. Many parts of his report are not a bit flattering, he said,
“If I lose my credibility as a psychologist, what the hell else do I have?” Boswell asked.
Moreau won a service medal, a Vietnam campaign medal, the Vietnam service medal, air service medal and a Purple Heart for fragmentation wounds.
“Fewer than 10 percent of people In Country received the Purple Heart, so that’s relatively rare,” Boswell said.
The VA uses the Purple Heart as presumptive evidence for a traumatic experience, Boswell said.
“If you are in the vicinity of a mortar attack, small arms fire or something like that, it is absolutely terrifying,” Boswell said. “You don’t know if you’re going to be alive in the next second. It’s completely vulnerable.”
“It is impossible to come back from a combat situation and have the same perception of the world,” Boswell said.
In his journals he refers to himself as a witch, writes that he believes he has special powers, that he’s a troll or a wizard. Moreau had something alive in his mouth and tried to burn it out, Boswell said.
“Why don’t I just eat my .44. Why don’t I just die? I should have died in Vietnam,” Moreau wrote in his journals.
His journals indicate a person with immense guilt, saying he felt he did not do nearly enough in Vietnam.
“I’ve got to get rid of Ziggy,” Boswell read in one of Moreau’s journals.
Ziggy is a voice in Moreau’s head.
Someone conspiring to kill people would brood about these things. Moreau’s journal entries do not, Boswell said.
His journals say that no one knows how much all this has cost him, Boswell said.
They have no sense of their future, and live day to day, something common to many combat veterans, Boswell said.
“They know how fragile life is,” Boswell said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.