Evidence takes spotlight in Vail shooting case
EAGLE – Attorneys will spar over what evidence will be admissible in the upcoming murder trial of Vail’s Richard “Rossi” Moreau at a hearing Friday.
Judge R. Thomas Moorhead will listen to arguments at 9 a.m. in District Court in Eagle.
Moreau is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 7 shooting death of Gary Bruce Kitching, a Carbondale physician. Kitching and three others were shot in the Sandbar bar and restaurant in West Vail.
Moreau will likely be asked to enter a plea Friday. The 63-year-old Vail man is also charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault and two counts of felony menacing.
The trial is set to begin Sept. 20. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
The issues involving evidence include:
• The defense has moved to suppress statements made by Moreau while in custody, both before and during police interviews. First, the defense says the judge should strike statements Moreau made after he was taken into custody and prior to being read his Miranda rights.
In response, prosecutors say they were “spontaneous utterances” by Moreau, which allegedly included, “Guys, I f—ed up. Do you know how long I have tried not to do this?”
The defense also moved to suppress statements made while Moreau was interviewed. Moreau did not adequately waive his right to remain silent, according to the defense. In response, the prosecution provided a signed waiver by which Moreau allegedly waived his rights.
The defense also moved to suppress statements made to medical staff. Prosecutors say the comments should be allowed as evidence.
• The defense asked the judge to suppress evidence taken from the Sandbar. The warrant did not establish probable cause and the affidavit was inadequate, the defense says.
The prosecution asked that the motion be denied, arguing “It is also clear that society is not ready to recognize that a person has an expectation of privacy in a public establishment that he does not own, but turned into a crime scene, by shooting patrons.”
• Defense asked that testing of Moreau’s hands for gunshot residue be suppressed because Moreau did not knowingly and voluntarily consent to the testing. The prosecution said it feels the testing was done voluntarily.
• Attorneys for Moreau have moved to suppress evidence seized from his house, car, wallet and cell phone. The search warrant affidavits were inadequate and didn’t establish probable cause for the searches, defense attorneys say.
Prosecutors say the motions should be denied and the evidence should be admissible.
The defense says there were also errors in the warrant for the car search, which asks for a search warrant for Moreau’s house, not his car.
Prosecutors responded that police made a mistake.
“It is clear in this age of technology that Detective (Jessica) Mayes (of the Vail Police) simply typed over the prior warrant and forgot to amend the place to be searched in the affidavit,” according to the prosecution’s response.
• According to a November police interview, a former neighbor said Moreau once threatened him with a gun.
The ex-neighbor said Moreau put the revolver 6 inches from the man’s face and asked the man what would happen if he pulled the trigger, according to police notes from the interview. The man allegedly said Moreau would go to jail. Moreau then allegedly said that wouldn’t happen because he is a Vietnam vet and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the ex-neighbor told police. Moreau said he would get six months in a mental institution, according to the man who was interviewed.
Prosecutors want the interview, conducted by Vail Officer Ryan Millbern, to be admissible in court.
• The defense asked to prohibit the use of altered photographs, video, audio tapes or still images. The prosecution responded that they do not and will not alter photos, videos or audio tapes.
The prosecution has showed a video taken from security cameras that allegedly shows Moreau shooting Kitching repeatedly.
• The defense asks for criminal background checks on potential jurors. Prosecutors say they will provide those reports.
• The defense asked for a questionnaire that will be presented to prospective jurors. The prosecution provided a draft questionnaire.
• The defense asks for a list of prospective jurors. The prosecution says the defense is entitled to that list, but asks for a protective order protecting people from being contacted by the defense.
• The defense asks for criminal records of all prosecution witnesses. The prosecution says that request should be denied.
• The defense has asked to reserve the right to request a change of venue for the trial.
• The defense asks for a new bond hearing. Moreau is being held without bond in the Eagle County Detention Center without bond.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.