Steamboat Springs A Routt County jury will begin deliberating Wednesday morning to decide the fate of a man accused of attempting to murder three people at a downtown Steamboat Springs bar.
During closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, Routt County Deputy District Attorney Eliot Thompson explained to the jury that defendant Steven Torres had a plan when he headed out to the bar the night of June 8, 2012.
“I want to ask you not to feel bad for Mr. Torres because he knew what he was getting into that night,” Thompson said. “He went there with his hat, sunglasses, headphones and gun in his pocket, and he stared at people and made them uncomfortable, and he waited, and he waited.”
Thompson painted the picture of a strange man acting oddly in a bar he had no business being in on a busy Friday night. Public defender Sheryl Uhlmann even acknowledged that Torres looked different and made people uncomfortable or even scared.
Thompson said it was when approached by a bouncer that Torres put his plan into action. Thompson and Uhlmann both said Torres pushed the bouncer in the chest. Prosecutors repeated three statements they think Torres uttered to the bouncers while he was being kicked out of the bar.
"You don't wanna get capped. I'm gonna cap you. I'm gonna come back and (expletive) shoot you.”
“This tells us a lot about Mr. Torres’ intent,” District Attorney Brett Barkey said.
Both sides agreed that once outside the bar, Torres pulled out a gun, walked toward the bouncers and fired a single shot down the stairs the bouncers ran down.
The defense again argued Torres was not trying to kill the men.
“This was not a shot to kill.” Uhlmann said. “It was a shot to scare. It was not aimed and fired in a manner to kill someone.”
The bullet struck the floor near the bottom of the stairs.
Barkey argued that Torres went beyond scaring the bouncers when, after pulling out the gun, Torres decided to pull the trigger.
“He didn't need to shoot to scare them,” Barkey said. “That had already been done. Those men were hightailing it out of there.”
The defense tried to poke holes in the testimony from the bouncers, who claimed they were running down the stairs when the shot was fired.
Uhlmann argued the bouncers were off the stairs and down a hallway when the shot was fired.
“It doesn't make sense for the bouncers to be on the stairs,” Uhlmann said. “They weren't on the stairs.”
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations Wednesday morning.
They will consider three first-degree attempted murder charges that have been filed against Torres. There is a charge for each of the bouncers and a third for another female employee who was in the area.
The specific charges do not state that Torres needed to intend to kill the people the gun was fired toward, Barkey said.
The jury will have to break down the legal definitions in the charges to decide if Torres held an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference and created a grave risk of death. In short, Torres “really just didn't care,” Barkey said to the jury.
In addition to the attempted first-degree murder charges, the jury will be able to consider charges of reckless endangerment, menacing and illegal discharge of a firearm.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland
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