Guilty as charged

Steamboat Springs man convicted of attempted murder for stabbing

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— Edward "Chief" Moore failed to persuade a jury that he stabbed another Steamboat Springs man in self-defense last fall.

The six men and six women who sat through a four-day trial found Moore, 48, guilty Friday night of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, use of a deadly weapon in a violent crime and unlawful use of cocaine.

The attempted murder conviction indicates the jury believed Moore intended to kill Brian Lithgow, 38, on Sept. 26. The assault conviction relates to Lithgow's actual physical injuries -- two life-threatening stab wounds to the back.

Moore took the stand in his own defense Friday, saying he "lost it" when Lithgow hit Toni Bufkin in the face at her Copper Mountain Estates home that day last September. Moore said he ran from the couch in the living room to the front door, where Lithgow pulled him outside. They fought on the bricks outside and Lithgow started choking him, Moore said.

"I was trying to slip out and get away. I reached into my belt for the filet knife I had and started flailing around," Moore said in court Friday. "I wouldn't have used the knife if I hadn't been in fear for my life."

Moore said he didn't intend to kill Lithgow and was only protecting himself and Bufkin.

Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James said the fight with Lithgow would have left bruises or injuries on Moore.

"This is a guy who says he's been in a knock-down, drag-out fight, and there's no bruises or cuts," the prosecutor told the jury in court Friday.

Police Detective Bob DelValle testified that Moore told him on the day of the stabbing that the fight happened inside the house and that he reached for a knife that was on a coffee table.

Moore's attorney, Ron Smith, chastised DelValle for not tape recording the interview for verification and said it shouldn't matter where Moore and Lufkin fought.

Jurors sat through hours of conflicting testimony, searching for truthfulness and consistency in witness statements made this week and in previous hearings and interviews.

Lawyers for both sides questioned the credibility of some of the witnesses who gave conflicting statements.

The victim also gave contradictory statements to police and to friends later interviewed by investigators.

"He (Lithgow) couldn't remember what happened. At his alcohol level, his brain was pickled. He was out of control on a drinking binge all week," Smith said, adding that Lithgow didn't deserve to be stabbed.

Dr. Mark Hermacinski, who operated on Lithgow's wound, testified Thursday that Moore's description of how he stabbed Lithgow was inconsistent with the location of the wounds.

Both the defense and the prosecution agreed that Lithgow had been a pest the day of the stabbing. He allegedly stopped by Bufkin's house at least four times looking for his ex-girlfriend, Sabina Gilbert.

"Mr. Lithgow was out of control all day," Smith said. "When Mr. Lithgow drinks he gets violent, jealous, aggressive and angry."

Smith said Moore was not a fighter and characterized him as "an old guitar player."

"He may be an old guitar player, but he was an old guitar player on cocaine and alcohol with a 10-inch knife in his hand that night," St. James countered.

Moore will be sentenced on May 22. Because he was convicted of a crime of violence, he is being held without bail at the Routt County Jail.


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

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