Vail murder suspect held without bail
November 10, 2009
VAIL, Colorado – The Vail resident who police say shot and killed a man at the Sandbar on Saturday night will be held without bond, a judge ruled Monday.
Richard “Rossi” Moreau, 63, did not speak during the five minutes he appeared before Judge Katharine T. Sullivan in a hearing at the Eagle courthouse.
“Currently, we are looking at a first-degree murder charge here,” District Attorney Mark Hurlbert told the judge.
Moreau, a longtime Vail local, is accused of killing one and injuring three in the West Vail bar and restaurant. Gary Bruce Kitching, 70, a physician from Carbondale died of multiple gunshot wounds.
At the hearing, Moreau had his left arm in a sling and was dressed in orange prison garb. He was brought into court through a side door and sat beside his attorney, public defender Reed Owens, who put his arm around Moreau as he advised him.
Owens told the judge he was concerned about Moreau getting his needed medicine in jail. Sullivan told him that officials have been in contact with the Veterans Administration hospital regarding Moreau’s medicine.
Owens also asked that filming inside the courtroom be prohibited.
The judge set a date of Nov. 23 by which charges must be filed. Vail Police are recommending a charge of first-degree homicide and are considering other charges.
As Moreau was being led out of the courtroom, he looked toward the gallery and waved toward longtime acquaintance Michael Cacioppo. Moreau’s next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 1, and he will continue to be held in the Eagle County Jail.
After the hearing, Owens declined to discuss the case or Moreau.
A couple of people who identified themselves as friends of Moreau were at the hearing.
Darlene Hoffman said she has known Moreau for 13 years. Shortly after they first met, she served as his psychologist while, in exchange, he taught her to ski, she said. Moreau has suffered for many years from anxiety and depression from post-traumatic stress disorder, and she helped Moreau get “100 percent disabled” benefits from the Veterans Administration, she said.
“He’s a kind, patient man, and this behavior is completely unexpected,” she said. “I’m as shocked as everyone else.”
Two of the injured victims remain hospitalized. A 63-year-old man who sustained multiple gunshot wounds is in critical but stable condition in a Denver hospital. A 29-year-old Sandbar employee who was shot in the arm is still in the Vail Valley Medical Center. A third victim who was shot in the leg was released from the hospital Saturday. Police have not released the names of the injured.
A search of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s database shows 18 arrests for Moreau by the Vail Police, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the Boulder Police, stretching back to 1976. They include charges of larceny, carrying a concealed weapon, discharge of a weapon and reckless endangerment.
Records from Eagle County’s District Court and County Court show several cases over the years with Moreau as a defendant.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of prohibited use of weapons – discharging a firearm or a bow and arrow in 1998, records show.
In 2001, he pleaded guilty to illegal discharge of a firearm, a felony, as well as criminal mischief, according to court records. Court records state that, as part of his sentence, he was not allowed to possess a weapon or firearm during his four-year probation. He was also ordered to complete 320 hours of community service and continue with medication, according to court records. After his probation ended in 2005, he petitioned the court for the return of two guns, court records show.
Police say Moreau used a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun in Saturday’s shootings. Dwight Henninger, Vail’s police chief, said more weapons were found when police searched Moreau’s home.
Moreau’s claims about his military service have been put into question. Moreau told the Vail Daily in 2006 that he was an Army Ranger who served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
Mary Schantag, a researcher with the POW Network, a group that researches military records of veterans, said the group’s database shows Moreau was a radio teletype operator who served about 48 months in the Army and was discharged as a corporal. The database does not show Moreau had Army Ranger training, Schantag said. The group’s database contains 60,000 archived historical records, she said.
Moreau also said he held a dying friend in his arms during combat.
“I found that hard to believe as a radio teletype operator,” Schantag said. “He wasn’t a grunt – a machine gunner, an ammo bearer. Those are the guys who are going to be up front.”