Rancher’s murder trial begins | VailDaily.com

Rancher’s murder trial begins

Veronica Whitney
Vail Daily/ Melinda Kruse

The nine-day murder trial of an Eagle County rancher began Monday with jury selection at the Eagle County Justice Center.

More than a year after the fatal shooting of her former boyfriend, Kathleen “Kathy” Denson, 45, owner of the 77-acre Draggin’ A Ranch between Eagle and Gypsum and Designer Furs in Vail, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Gerald “Cody” Boyd, her ex-boyfriend.

Boyd, 45, died of a shotgun wound on June 27, 2002, at Denson’s ranch. Denson is free on $600,000 bail.

Less than a week after Kobe Bryant’s advisement hearing, the Justice Center was packed again Monday morning. This time, county residents, who diligently filled jury questionnaires, far outnumbered reporters covering the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case. Unlike the past weeks, only one satellite truck was parked at the Justice Center’s parking lot Monday.

By 5 p.m., the 164 potential jurors had been reduced to 80. Jury selection will continue today.

“We expect to have a jury selected by tomorrow,” Eagle County District Judge Richard Hart said Monday.

The prosecution and the defense have to agree on a 12-people jury and two alternate jurors.

Trial time

Denson appeared Monday in court and spent part of the morning in a meeting with her Denver attorney, Scott Robinson, prosecutors Philip Smith and Greg Crittenden, and Judge Hart.

Denson recently finished drug treatment at a clinic in Grand Junction.

Her last appearance in court was in June, when District Judge Terry Ruckriegle ordered her to complete a treatment after police found drugs in her ranch.

Packing the front seat of Courtroom 2 on Monday were Boyd’s relatives, including his 12-year-old daughter, Callie, and his ex wife, Debra Griffith, who has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Denson on behalf of her daughter.

Griffith declined to comment.

The evidence

Evidence to be presented at the trial will include hearsay statements of Denson saying that she believed Boyd was a hit man.

At the last hearing on the case in July, Robinson said Denson believed Boyd was “a hit man that could hurt her son.”

Although Hart said he will not generally accept hearsay statements – statements said out of court – at the trial, he said there could be some exceptions.

“And Denson’s statements about Boyd will most likely be accepted at the trial,” Hart said in July.

Robinson told the judge he planned to introduce those statements at the trial 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” statute case, which under Colorado law allows homeowners to use reasonable and necessary force to protect themselves or their property against an intruder.

Other statements that could become part of the trial include:

n Statements by Boyd to other people that he was a hit man who had killed 32 people.

n Statements attributed to Denson when she was handcuffed by police (not taped). Denson allegedly told police, “I had to – he just kept coming, threatening me.”

Other evidence includes 13 autopsy photographs presented by the prosecution.

Precluded from the trial, however, is evidence on Denson’s prior conduct that could be linked to the shooting. The evidence denied by Hart in July included an episode when Denson discharged a weapon in the air to scare rafters that were floating down the Eagle River near her ranch a few years

ago. The judge denied Smith’s request because the prosecutor filed the motion late.

Also precluded are homemade videos depicting Denson and Boyd using drugs, unless drug use becomes relevant, and evidence regarding prescription medicine taken by Denson, as well as her mental health.

The trial

Murder trial of Kathleen Denson

9 a.m. daily through Aug. 21

Eagle County Justice Center, Courtroom 2

At a glance

The case

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 lying dead in the living room with a gunshot wound to the chest.

Denson, charged with the second-degree murder of Gerald Boyd, is free on $600,000 bail.

Second-degree murder – knowingly causing the death of someone – carries 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.

Police said Denson called 911, saying she’d just shot her ex-boyfriend.

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


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