Unclear whether Robert Cash will testify
January 14, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The first-degree attempted murder trial for Robert Cash will continue into its second week Tuesday, but it's still unclear whether Cash will take the stand to defend himself.
A couple of local defense attorneys not affiliated with the ongoing trial at the Routt County Justice Center say Cash's potential testimony comes down to several factors.
"Most defense attorneys are not going to put their client on the stand in a case like this, and I've had clients that have gone against my advice," Steamboat Springs defense attorney Charles Feldmann said Saturday. "In the end it's the client's decision."
On Friday, prosecutors rested their case and Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann began calling her witnesses. She is representing Cash, who is on trial for first-degree attempted murder and crime of violence. He is accused of shooting his then-wife Rhonda Heaton in the back of the neck on June 11, 2010, at their west Steamboat Springs home.
The defense has conceded that Cash pulled the trigger, but Uhlmann is arguing that the shooting was not a premeditated attempt to kill Heaton. Uhlmann raised the possibility last week that the bullet actually may have ricocheted off another object before striking Heaton in the back of the neck.
Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Cash intended to kill his wife could be difficult for prosecutors to prove, Feldmann said.
He said defense attorneys keep their options open when it comes to calling a defendant to testify. The decision is usually made once the prosecution has finished presenting its evidence and once the defense has had a chance to evaluate the strength of the prosecution's case.
"If there is reasonable doubt, I would not expect him to testify," Feldmann said. "He'll probably do himself more harm than good."
Uhlmann has not indicated whether Cash will testify.
"It becomes a question of can he offer something that no one else knows or can explain," local defense attorney Larry Combs said.
The trial resumes Tuesday, and closing arguments could be heard Wednesday.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com