Eagle County campground killer may get new trial
EAGLE COUNTY – Charles Gross is one step closer to a new trial in the 2005 murder of Maria Madrid.
The Colorado Court of Appeals Thursday ruled that Gross, who was 55 at the time of the shooting, should be granted a new trial in the case, saying jurors should have been instructed to consider that Gross may have acted in self-defense.
An Eagle County jury in 2007 convicted Gross of first degree murder in the killing of Madrid, 38, and wounding her husband, Eliseo, during an incident in October of 2005 at a campground up the Coffee Pot road north of Dotsero.
Family members Eliseo and son Joel Madrid testified that they were in the family’s pickup truck, ready to leave, when Gross approached them at the campground and told them to pick up their trash. The shooting started shortly after. Maria was hit in the head with a slug from a .44 caliber handgun. Eliseo was hit in the shoulder.
Gross testified that he approached the family, but that Eliseo, who was driving the pickup, drove toward him. Gross said he fired when he saw Eliseo reach under the vehicle’s seat.
Defense attorneys Terry O’Connor and Scott Poland asked District Judge Thomas Moorhead if jurors could be instructed to consider Gross’ claims of self-defense. Moorhead denied that request. Gross was convicted after several hours of deliberation.
While the appeals court ruled that Gross is entitled to a new trial, that may not happen.
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said the Colorado Attorney General’s office will decide whether to ask Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider the appeals court’s decision. A new trial would then depend on whether the state’s high court upholds the appeal.
If the case doesn’t go to the state supreme court and Gross gets a new trial, Hurlbert said it could be late 2010 or early 2011 before that trial could be held.
“We’re already prosecuting a first-degree murder case,” he said, referring to the case of Richard “Rossi” Moreau, facing trial in the November, 2009 shooting death of Gary Bruce Kitching.
“Obviously I think the (appeals court’s) decision is wrong,” Hurlbert said. “I think we tried a good, clean case, and there was no evidence of self-defense.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.