Texas man guilty in savage Brush Creek Saloon beating; Pedro Gonzalez convicted of attempted murder
June 6, 2018
EAGLE — Pedro Gonzalez savagely beat Dita Richterova. Gonzalez admitted it and security video showed him doing it.
A jury spent four hours Wednesday afternoon, June 6, determining that Gonzalez was also guilty of trying to kill her. Along with assault, the jury of eight women and four men found him guilty of attempted first-degree murder.
Gonzalez shifted his weight slightly when the verdict was read. Richterova exhaled with deep relief.
"The community was appropriately and justly served today by the verdict," Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum said following the verdict. "Ms. Ricterova was able to get her day in court. She's amazing. She's one of the strongest women I know."
Beating caught on video
The Brush Creek Saloon security video clearly showed Gonzalez ambushing and beating Richterova for almost two full minutes, from 1:18 a.m. to 1:20 a.m., July 24, 2017, while she was working alone and trying to close the saloon. He first hit her in the forehead with a beer bottle, then his fists, then kicks and strangulation.
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Gonzalez claimed he meant to hurt Richterova, but not kill her. He said he was depressed and missed his wife and family in Mexico, that he was drunk and that he went off after Richterova called him an "effing wetback."
Richterova testified that she said no such thing. The Czech Republic native said she had never heard the word.
During her closing arguments, McCollum skewered the notion that Gonzalez' challenges excused the attack to which he admitted.
"I submit to you that everyone in this courtroom has had challenges and struggles in their lives," McCollum told the jury during Wednesday morning's closing argument. "Everyone in this courtroom has been called a bad name. Mr. Gonzalez said he has been the target of that slur 10 to 15 times in his life. He did not attack the other 14 people. He did attack Ms. Richterova."
The video shows everything, McCollum said.
"The only thing it does not show is when they are out of frame and he is kicking her," McCollum said.
Didn't try to kill, defense says
Thea Reiff, the public defender representing Gonzalez, insisted throughout the trial that Gonzalez acted in the heat of passion.
About the security video that showed Gonzalez attacking Richterova, Reiff told the jury, "It is bad. It is vicious. But it is assault, not a premeditated attempt to kill."
Gonzalez claimed he does not remember anything after he threw the first punch.
"How can you know what your intent wasn't, when you don't know what your intent was?" McCollum asked.
Praise for Eagle PD
Eagle Police Chief Joe Staufer said he is proud of his department and its partners.
"I am proud of the hard work and dedication from members of our team and efforts of our legal partners, including the Eagle County Sheriff's Office, the Vail Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office, in addition to our community partners, who worked relentlessly to assist in bringing justice, along with a degree of closure for the victim and for our community," he said. "We are hopeful that this verdict will yield additional resolve, as Ms. Richterova and our community continue to heal from this vicious, unprovoked attack that could have ended the life of Ms. Richterova."
Staufer said he is also grateful to the jurors and judge for their work.
"I am grateful to the jurors for their careful assessment and evaluation of evidence, consideration of testimony and review of facts," he said. "I thank the jurors for their commitment to this essential and vital civic duty. I would also like to thank District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman for his expertise and careful evaluation of the legal process during trial."
"As Ms. Richterova's road to recovery from this tragedy continues, I am grateful to our community for the support and encouragement throughout the process," Staufer said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.