Defense claims stabbing was self-defense

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— Steamboat Springs resident Ed Moore stabbed Brian Lithgow twice in the kidneys in self-defense, according to Moore's attorney, Ron Smith.

Smith presented his opening statements in Routt County District Court on Tuesday, the first day of what is expected to be a four or five day trial. Moore is standing trial on a charge of attempted second-degree murder.

Moore, 48, is accused of stabbing Brian Lithgow, 38, on Sept. 26 at the home of Toni Bufkin in Copper Mountain Estates.

In court Tuesday, Smith said Lithgow initiated a fight, putting his arms around Moore's neck in a chokehold from behind.

"At that point, he's losing consciousness. He had no option but to stab Brian Lithgow in self-defense," Smith said.

Smith said Lithgow was drunk and angry that night because Moore had had a relationship with Sabina Gilbert, who had recently broken up with Lithgow. Smith said his client had seen Lithgow hit Bufkin's boyfriend, Josh Carter, on Sept. 25 and hit Bufkin the day of the stabbing.

Smith said Moore, Bufkin and Gilbert arrived at Copper Moun-tain Estates late in the evening on Sept. 25 to find the women's daughters gone.

The attorney said Moore was worried that Lithgow had kicked in the front door and scared away the 10-year-old girls.

"Ed Moore didn't come out swinging a knife," Smith said. "He only used that knife to protect that home."

Prosecutor Kerry St. James told the 12-person jury that Moore, Gilbert, Bufkin and Carter assumed a broken door had been kicked in by Lithgow, but he said the young girls will testify Lithgow never kicked it.

St. James urged the jury to look beyond the "unsavory bunch" of people involved in the stabbing -- people who drank and partied together at "a house in constant turmoil."

St. James said Moore stabbed an unarmed man.

"The only thing (Lithgow) could be said to be armed with was an obnoxious personality," St. James, the assistant district attorney, said. "The defendant had no justification for deadly force."

Steamboat Springs police officer Paul Timmons testified Tuesday that Moore never told him the stabbing was done in self-defense, although fellow police officer Pua Utu said in court that Moore told him that "he was scared for his life."

St. James said Lithgow approached Bufkin's home that night with his head down, watching the steps, when he was hit in the face by someone.

St. James said Lithgow reacted by swinging his fist, which ended up hitting Bufkin in the face.

Lithgow spent more than a week at Routt Memorial Hospital after being stabbed twice in the back, through a kidney, and once in the hand.

Assault and trespass charges filed against Lithgow were later dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Moore, also known as "Chief," has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, using a deadly weapon in a violent crime and possession of a controlled substance.

Moore's trial is scheduled to last at least through Friday. He is being held in the Routt County Jail on $50,000 bond.


-- To reach Michelle Bales call 871-4208 or e-mail mbales@amigo.net

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