Jury finds Robert Cash guilty of attempted first-degree murder
January 19, 2012
Steamboat Springs — More than 19 months after being shot in the neck and left for dead by her then-husband, Rhonda Heaton saw Robert Cash brought to justice Thursday in Steamboat Springs.
Heaton sobbed when the jury foreman announced that the 12-member group had found Cash guilty of attempted first-degree murder. Cash also cried, shook his head repeatedly and at one point looked over to where Heaton was sitting.
The emotions followed Heaton outside the courtroom, where she collapsed in the doorway.
"The only thing I want to say is how proud I am of the DA's Office and the jury," Heaton said. "Thank you."
"Throughout the entire trial, she couldn't show emotion and she had to keep it inside, and at that point, she was able to express all the feelings she's been having throughout the entire trial," said District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham, who prosecuted the case with Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle. "It's a relief that justice was served, and it's a relief to know that Rhonda can move on with her life and she has closure from this."
At the conclusion of the seven-day trial, the jury took less than three hours to reach a unanimous guilty verdict.
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Cash chose to take the stand to defend himself Tuesday and tell jurors how his wife was shot on June 11, 2010. Cash said he was planning to shoot himself with the gun while lying next to Heaton in bed. Instead, Cash said he was walking to the bed and the gun went off accidentally. He said he had no intention of shooting Heaton.
"There was a couple things in his testimony we didn't believe," juror Tim Davidson said. "To remember certain things with detail and then not remember other things, that weighed a heavy factor to it."
Heaton also testified during the trial. She painted a different picture of the shooting, telling jurors that Cash refused to call an ambulance after shooting her and continued to check on her in their bedroom to see if she had died. She testified that Cash said he shot her "so you can't destroy anyone's life like mine." The couple was going through a divorce and was in the process of losing their home to foreclosure. Cash recently had lost his job, as well.
In addition to attempted first-degree murder, Cash was found guilty of domestic violence and crime of violence, which is a sentence enhancer resulting from Cash having used a deadly weapon.
Judge Shelley Hill scheduled sentencing for 1 p.m. April 6.
Oldham said Cash, 57, faces a minimum sentence of 16 years in prison and a maximum of 48 years.
Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann, who represented Cash, did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Prindle commended the work done by the Steamboat Springs Police Department, his staff members in the DA's office and the jury.
"This was a long trial," Prindle said. "They were engaged in the case … and at the end of the day, they looked at all the evidence, they looked at the big picture, and I think they applied common sense."
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com