Family’s testimony opens murder trial in Eagle |

Family’s testimony opens murder trial in Eagle

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado
Charles Gross

EAGLE ” Glass shards fell on Joel Madrid’s face as he held his bleeding mother, who had been shot in the head, the teenager testified Wednesday in court.

After the first shot, “I put my arm over my mom and I ducked and she fell,” between the front seats of the Toyota pickup truck the family was in, said Joel Madrid, 16.

The murder trial of Charles Gross, 57, of Harbor Springs, Michigan, began Wednesday with testimony from Maria Madrid’s husband and son.

Maria Madrid died Oct. 7, 2005, after she was shot in the head as she, her husband, Eliseo Madrid, and then-14-year-old Joel Madrid were leaving a Deep Creek campsite on Coffee Pot Road north of Dotsero, police said.

Gross approached the Gypsum family’s pickup truck and blamed Eliseo Madrid for not picking up after themselves, police have said.

The charges include first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree attempted murder and also second-degree assault.

Gross sat calmly as he watched the testimony and wore a white dress shirt with a tie and gray slacks.

Gross’ attorneys, Terry O’Connor and Scott Poland, said they will not comment until the trial ends, they said. Unlike the prosecution, O’Connor and Poland did not make an opening statement.

Throughout his testimony, Eliseo Madrid avoided eye contact with Gross. Eliseo Madrid was an illegal immigrant during the incident, but is now living in the country legally because is his testifying against Gross, he said.

“I was married, but someone killed my wife,” said Eliseo Madrid, who could not identify Gross in a photo lineup.

Gross approached the Madrids, who were sitting in the truck and about to leave, and told them to pick up their trash, Eliseo and Joel Madrid said.

“I say, ‘Yes sir, we do,'” said Eliseo Madrid, who at times had a Spanish translator repeat questions to him.

“My dad just looked him in the eye and said, ‘What trash?'” Joel Madrid who testified later with little emotion.

Gross walked toward the campfire the family had put out and then walked back to the truck, the Madrids said.

Maria Madrid told her husband to leave because she feared the man “might have something,” Joel Madrid said.

Gross reached in his jacket, pulled out a gun, took one or two steps back and fired it, the Madrids said.

Poland asked whether Eliseo Madrid made a “threatening gesture” toward Gross.

“No, I didn’t do anything against him,” Eliseo Madrid said.

“Are you suggesting that a complete stranger would shoot your wife over an untidy camp site?” O’Connor asked.

Eliseo Madrid raced his injured wife to the home of Dotsero-area resident Russel Ammon, the closest house he could find.

Ammon was watching the news as the Madrids pulled up in the driveway right next to the stairs leading to his porch.

Ammon called police and as the group waited, Ammon got his daughter Angela, who lived next door. A family doctor at the Eagle Valley Medical Center, Angela Ammon examined Maria Madrid, who later died in an ambulance, according to testimony.

“Most of it was ‘My wife’s been shot,’ call 911, so I did,” Ammon said.

Gross has no prior criminal record in Colorado or Michigan, where he had divided his time during the last 15 years.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

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