Prosecutors rest case against punter |

Prosecutors rest case against punter

Pat Graham
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
Linda McConnell, AP/Pool photoDefenant Mitch Cozad sits with his defense team during his trial in Greeley.

GREELEY ” Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday against former Northern Colorado backup punter Mitch Cozad on charges of attacking the starter with a knife.

The defense immediately asked the judge to dismiss the attempted first-degree murder charge against Cozad, saying prosecutors did not prove their case. The judge refused.

Cozad, who told the judge Tuesday he did not plan to testify, is also charged with second-degree assault in the attack on Rafael Mendoza last Sept. 11. Police and prosecutors have said it was a bid to get the starter’s job.

Mendoza was attacked outside his apartment in Evans, a small town near Greeley. He was left with a deep gash in his kicking leg but later returned to the team.

He testified he could not see who attacked him. Defense attorney Joseph Gavaldon has claimed it was another Northern Colorado student and not Cozad.

Prosecutors spent more than four days laying out their case against Cozad, calling police, Cozad’s former girlfriend and Mendoza himself as witnesses.

The ex-girlfriend, Angela Vogel, testified Monday that she lied to police at Cozad’s request, first saying Cozad was with her at the time Mendoza was stabbed.

She said she quickly regretted that lie and 15 minutes later told investigators Cozad had left for part of the evening and did not contact her again until shortly after 10 p.m.

Police said Mendoza was stabbed at about 9:30 p.m.

“They were finding holes in my story, and I said ‘I’m coming clean,”‘ she said.

During cross-examination by Gavaldon, Vogel said she got scared when police accused her of being with Cozad on a crosstown trip to Mendoza’s apartment the night of the stabbing.

“They started treating you as a suspect,” Gavaldon said.

“Yes, they did,” she replied.

Vogel also testified that Cozad once asked her what she thought would hurt most, “getting hit by a car, getting beat by a baseball bat or getting stabbed?”

She said a week before the stabbing, Cozad came to her dorm room dressed in black and crying, anxious and frustrated.

“He talked about if his numbers kept increasing he could go pro, (and) the coaches were taking that away from him,” she said.

“He told me he got to be a ninja that night,” Vogel added. “‘Oh my God, what I almost did tonight.’ I thought he was suicidal.”

Prosecutors showed a series of text messages they said Cozad sent Vogel on Sept. 12 and 13, including, “We were not apart between 8 and 12.”

A police detective testified Monday that he found a black hooded sweat shirt in Cozad’s dorm room hours after the stabbing.

Mendoza has said his attacker was dressed in a black hooded sweat shirt cinched up around the face so only the eyes were visible.

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