Firearms on parade
The defense in the murder trial against local rancher Kathleen “Kathy” Denson presented a parade of semi-automatic firearms Wednesday, some of which an expert witness called “weapons of choice in the military.”
The weapons had been found at Denson’s ranch after the shooting of her former boyfriend, Gerald “Cody” Boyd.
Denson, 46, owner of the 77-acre Draggin’ A Ranch between Eagle and Gypsum, as well as Designer Furs in Vail, is charged with the second-degree murder of Boyd. Boyd, 45, died of a black powder-pistol shotgun wound on June 27, 2002, at Denson’s ranch.
Richard Post, a ballistics expert, described to the jury half a dozen rifles, most of them semi-automatics, some with modifications that upgraded them to automatics.
“Many of these weapons wouldn’t be legal for hunting,” Post testified. “The Intratec is a weapon of choice in the military.”
The firearms presented at the Eagle County Justice Center included a .22 magnum rifle, a red-dot optical sight rifle, three MAK 90s – similar to those used in the Vietnam war – an AR 15 similar to the one used last year during the sniper killings in Washington D.C. and Virginia, an Russian-designed SKS rifle and an Intratec 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
“The magnum rifle is the kind of quiet and accurate weapon that would be used for assassinations,” Post said.
Other items introduced as evidence Wednesday included manuals to convert semi-automatic firearms to automatic and a night-vision monocular, all found at Denson’s ranch.
“We don’t know who all these (firearms and manuals) belonged to, do we?” Denson’s attorney Scott Robinson asked Post.
“No,” Post said.
While the prosecution alleges Denson’ shot Boyd because of jealousy – he was living with another woman – the defense maintains Denson shot Boyd in self-defense. Robinson says the day of the shooting Boyd was high in drugs. In previous testimony, Boyd’s mother and Monica Seebacher, Boyd’s girlfriend at the time of the shooting, said Boyd had told them he had been a “hit man” in a previous life.
“We found cocaine’
In his testimony, Post also said the distance to the muzzle of the pistol that killed Boyd was between 2 and 4 feet.
“It’s not a contact wound,” he said.
He also said there was no damage in the palms of Boyd’s hands, which would have indicated he was trying to protect himself.
Another expert witness for the defense, Dr. Robert Lantz, a toxicologist, said Wednesday Boyd had been “very likely significantly impaired by cocaine at the time of his death.”
Lantz tested samples of Boyd’s blood and fluids from his bladder and eyeball for cocaine and THC – an active component of marijuana – as well as Halcion, a prescription drug used to help people sleep.
“We found Halcion and cocaine in his blood,” Lantz said. “The amount of Halcion we found would have decreased his ability to think well.”
Lantz said he also found “a whole lot of cocaine” in Boyd’s blood. Aside of cocaine, he found larger amounts of metabolized cocaine. After death, he said, the body keeps metabolizing the drug, he said.
Large intakes of cocaine, he added, can cause irrationality, delusions and violence.
In cross-examination, however, Lantz said cocaine doesn’t affect everyone in the same way.
“A lot of people who take small doses of cocaine don’t get violent,” Lantz told prosecutor Greg Crittenden.
Lantz also said he couldn’t tell exactly how intoxicated Boyd was at any given time.
“Most likely, he took cocaine that day,” he said.
Denson to testify
Another witness, Dana Wortman, a Vail masseuse, testified Wednesday that Cody Boyd had called her the Monday before the shooting, says he was very upset because Denson had broken up with him.
“He was very agitated. He called her a (expletive) and a (expletive),” Wortman said.
“He was looking for someone to take drugs with him,” Wortman added in her testimony. “He said he was upset because Kathleen had broken up with him and he couldn’t handle it.”
Denson is expected to testify today, the last day scheduled for the trial, which could be extended.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at