Judge accepts "hearsay statements’ for murder trial
“Hearsay statements” by a local rancher saying she believed her former boyfriend was a “hit man” most likely will be accepted at her August murder trial, a judge said Tuesday.
Kathleen “Kathy” Denson, 44, 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 Gerald “Cody” Boyd, 45, who died of a shotgun wound on June 27, 2002. Denson is out on $600,000 bail.
A general rule for what statements will be admitted during the nine-day jury trial was agreed upon Tuesday in a telephone conference call among Scott Robinson, Denson’s attorney, Assistant District Attorney Philip Smith, and Eagle County District Court Judge Richard Hart.
“I have set a rule to analyze whether a statement is hearsay,” Judge Hart said, adding he will not allow “hearsay statements” – statements said out of court – although there may be exceptions.
“If she (Denson) heard those statements, they’ll probably come in because it could show state of mind,” the judge said.
During the conference call, Robinson said Denson believed Boyd was “a hit man that could hurt her son.”
“I’m going to introduce those statements at the trial,” he said.
Hart said it would be hard to decide on all the statements the defense and prosecution want to introduce, mainly because there just are are too many.
“We’ll have to play with the rule I set during the trial,” he said.
Other statements that could become part of the trial include:
– Statements of Boyd to other people that he was a hit man who had killed 32 people.
– Unrecorded statements attributed to Denson when she was handcuffed by police in which she allegedly told police “I had to. … He just kept coming, threatening me.”
Last month, Robinson told the judge Denson’s statements are important to his case because they could prove self-defense.
Before the gag order imposed last summer by former Eagle County Judge Terri Diem, Robinson said self-defense could become a part of the case. The fact the shooting occurred at Denson’s home with a single shot could make the case a “make my day statue case,” which, under Colorado law, allows homeowners to use reasonable and necessary force to protect themselves or their property against an intruder.
Judge Hart also precluded from the trial:
– Evidence on Denson’s prior conduct that could be linked to the shooting, including an episode in which Denson discharged a weapon in the air to scare rafters floating down the Eagle River through her ranch. The judge denied Smith’s request because the prosecutor filed the motion late.
– Homemade videos depicting Denson and Boyd using drugs, unless drug use becomes relevant in the trial.
In June, Judge Terry Ruckriegle:
– Accepted 13 of the 32 autopsy photographs presented by the prosecution.
– Precluded evidence regarding prescription medicine taken by Denson, as well as her mental health.
Robinson and Smith also agreed Tuesday on a specific questionnaire for the jury selection.
“I think it will save time in the jury selection,” Robinson said.
The nine-day trial will begin with jury selection on Aug. 11.
Denson is currently undergoing drug treatment in Grand Junction. In June, Judge Ruckriegle ordered Denson to successfully complete a treatment after police found drugs at her ranch.
– Kathy Denson was arrested on June 27, 2002, after Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at her ranch at 14245 U.S. Highway 6 and found her former boyfriend, Gerald “Cody” Boyd, lying dead in the living room with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest.
–Police said Denson had called 911, saying she’d just shot her ex-boyfriend.
– Second-degree murder – knowingly causing the death of someone – is a class-II felony with a sentence of eight to 24 years in prison.
– Denson also has been charged with the use of a deadly weapon, which doubles the sentence if she is found guilty.
– Denson also faces a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Debra Griffith on behalf of Boyd’s 12-year-old daughter, Callie.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at email@example.com.