State high court denies latest Mach appeal |

State high court denies latest Mach appeal

Scott N. Miller

DENVER – Robert Mach will stay in prison, at least for the foreseeable future.Mach, a former personnel director at the town of Vail, remains in prison, convicted of first degree murder for the 1994 shooting death of his wife, Mimi. The Colorado Supreme Court Monday refused to consider an appeal by Mach. That appeal was, in turn, an appeal of a Colorado Court of Appeals decision last year. That court refused to overturn Mach’s conviction. Mach has argued that District Judge Terry Ruckriegle improperly denied his request to introduce evidence about his wife’s character and blood alcohol level. That evidence, Mach argued, would support his claim that he shot Mimi in the heat of passion.Mach called 911 early on Memorial Day of 1994, telling dispatchers he had shot his wife in the upstairs bedroom of the couple’s Eagle-Vail townhome. He has argued since that he acted in the heat of passion following a day-long argument. Prosecutors have argued that the shooting was premeditated, in large part based on the fact Mach fired two shots.The difference is more than semantic. The heat of passion defense would have opened Mach to a possible charge of second-degree murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 48 years in prison. A conviction on a first-degree murder charge requires a life sentence with no possibility of parole.At the time of the shooting, Mimi Mach’s daughter from a previous marriage, then 11, and the couple’s infant daughter were asleep in the downstairs bedroom.At the time, the couple faced child abuse charges for allegedly leaving the 11-year-old home alone. The girls have since been raised by Mimi’s relatives in another state.That first-degree murder case was the first for former District Attorney Mike Goodbee, who now works in the Adams County prosecutor’s office.”I’ll always remember it was the first murder case I had where I went to the scene,” Goodbee said. “The house was almost immaculate, but there was a body in the bedroom. It was like something out of the ‘Twilight Zone.'”And, while Mach had recently resigned at Vail, the news of the murder hit hard at town hall.”When you’re talking about a person with a position of trust, like personnel manager, a lot of people were really shocked and distraught,” Assistant Town Manager Pam Brandmeyer said. “It was really hard to accept and understand.”Goodbee earned a conviction in the case, but Mach appealed almost immediately.The state appeals court voided that first conviction after ruling Mach was denied the right to recall an expert witness.A second trial was prosecuted by former Garfield County District Attorney Mac Meyers, and Mach was again convicted of first-degree murder. While the state’s high court threw out Mach’s latest appeal without a hearing, it may not be the end of his legal options.Goodbee said it’s fairly common for people serving long sentences to file appeals claiming they weren’t properly represented in court.”It’s almost like perpetual due process,” Goodbee said. “We have cases where these issues arise decades later.”For now, though, Mach still faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.”In cases like this you’re glad for the surviving family,” Goodbee said. “But you never feel good. It’s always bittersweet because there was a murder.”The Associated Press contributed to this report.Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or Daily, Vail Colorado

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