Steamboat Springs A surgeon who operated on Brian Lithgow's life-threatening wound to his kidney testified in Routt County District Court on Thursday that the defendant's account of how he stabbed the victim is inconsistent with the location of Lithgow's wounds.
Edward T. Moore, 48, is in the middle of a five-day jury trial that will determine if he's guilty of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, using a deadly weapon in a violent crime and possession of a controlled substance.
Moore, also known as Chief, has pleaded not guilty and said he stabbed Brian Lithgow, 38, in self-defense at 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 26 at Copper Mountain Estates.
Using a 12-inch ruler in place of a knife, Steamboat Springs police officers demonstrated in court how Moore said he stabbed Lithgow.
Police detective Bob DelValle said Moore told him that he and Lithgow fell to the living room floor on their knees when Lithgow put him in what he called an "L.A. chokehold," with his arms around his neck from behind.
"(Moore) showed me how he took the knife off the glass table with his right hand and reached around to stab him," DelValle said.
Moore told police he stabbed Lithgow a second time in the same place on his back, this time while facing him, because Lithgow still had his hands around his neck. DelValle said Moore told him he then stabbed Lithgow a third time.
Dr. Mark Hermacinski's testimony, however, disputes what Moore told police. Hermacinski said Lithgow had two stab wounds on his back, one on each side. The doctor said Moore's description of how he stabbed Lithgow is inconsistent with the location of the wounds.
DelValle pointed out another apparent inconsistency in Moore's story. The detective said Moore told him he was sure the fight happened inside the home at Copper Mountain Estates, then said it might have happened outside.
Wherever the fight happened, several local residents testified Thursday that Moore is a peaceful man and would not have instigated the attack.
"Ed's one of the most passive people I've ever met. He's never aggressive," said local musician Mark Walker, who said he's known Moore since 1992.
Walker told Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James that he had seen Moore when he had been drinking alcohol and using cocaine.
"Alcohol or drugs didn't persuade him to be more aggressive. He was always passive and turned away from any confrontation," Walker said Thursday, although he told a district attorney's office investigator several months ago that Moore was never involved in drugs.
Drug and alcohol use, and how they may have impacted people's memories of the events the day of the stabbing, have figured prominently in the trial all week.
By all accounts, including his own, Lithgow was intoxicated the day of the stabbing. He also admitted to using cocaine that day and said Sabina Gilbert, Josh Carter and Toni Bufkin had also. Carter and Gilbert testified they had not used cocaine that day. Bufkin, the homeowner, testified Thursday that she had not done cocaine the day of the stabbing, nor had she seen Moore do it.
Moore's blood, however, tested positive for the presence of cocaine metabolites.
Tests were also done to differentiate whose DNA was found on three blood-stained items at the crime scene. A blood stain on a doorknob matched Bufkin's DNA with a minor component of DNA consistent with Lithgow. Blood on a knife matched Lithgow's DNA with a minor component that was not Bufkin's and could have been Moore's. A stain on Moore's jeans and shirt matched his DNA.
The prosecution rested its case at 2 p.m. Thursday. The defense is expected to continue with witnesses today and Monday, if needed.
-- To reach Michelle Bales call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org