1st-responders take witness stand at Capote assault trial
Testimony from officers, medics and taxi driver opens brothers’ trial
February 3, 2010
Steamboat Springs — A steady stream of police officers and emergency responders filed up to the witness box Tuesday during the first day of the trial of Eduardo and David Capote.
The Miami brothers are charged with assault in connection with a Jan. 2, 2009, altercation at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Seventh Street that led to the death of Sgt. 1st Class Richard Lopez.
Police officers who were first on the scene, along with the detectives who worked the case and their supervisors, all began to set the stage for the trial Tuesday. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks and is being presided over by 14th Judicial District Judge Shelley Hill. Jury selection was Monday and resulted in a group of seven men and seven women, including the two alternates.
Also called to the stand Tuesday was Reid Lewis, the taxi driver who drove the Capote brothers, along with Eduardo's wife and David's girlfriend, back to their hotel after the altercation.
Lewis testified that he was parked near Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue when the four people piled into his van. The group surprised him because he had been reading, and he testified that they appeared to be out of breath and one member of the group told him to drive. When he asked why they were out of breath, Lewis said the riders told him they had been in a snowball fight.
As he pulled away from the corner and turned right onto Lincoln Avenue, Lewis said they drove past the place where Lopez was laying on the pavement. Lewis testified that he commented about the man in the street but that his riders didn't say anything that he could recall.
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Lewis said that as the group passed the Mount Werner Road roundabout, one of the brothers admitted that they had been in a bar fight that night. Lewis said that as they pulled up to the hotel, one of the brothers told him something to the effect of "this didn't happen," or a similar comment implying that he should not report the fare.
Finally, as the group was exiting the van, Lewis told one of the men he had blood on his face, a line that looked like a smear, Lewis testified.
Police recall incident
Steamboat Springs police officers admitted to several mistakes they made in the investigation during first-day testimony Tuesday at the Routt County Justice Center.
Sgt. Gerard Geis said he had talked to a man who said he saw someone running away from the scene but said he had not asked the man's name, something he acknowledged that he should have done.
The last witness of the day, Detective Nick Bosick, said it was a mistake that officers did not take photos of the scene at the time of the incident and did not immediately create a diagram of the scene. The photos and diagram could prove to be important in the trial because the defense has asserted in the past that Lopez fell or slipped on an ice-covered road. Each of the first-responders and detectives who was on the scene that night recalled that the roads were dry and clear, but there were no photographs made of the scene at the time. Also at issue is where Lopez was found in the crosswalk at the south side of Lincoln Avenue to verify or disprove witness accounts.
During his testimony, Bosick also talked about his first interview with the Capotes, including their father, Eduardo Capote Sr., at Yampa Valley Regional Airport before the family left Steamboat the day after the incident. In that statement, the Capote brothers reportedly admitted they had been in the fight but said they were defending themselves from the "military men" — Lopez and his companions, Timothy and Michael Wesley Mottlau.
The manager at the Tap House Sports Grill, where the men reportedly had an argument; an eyewitness; a medical responder and other members of the Police Department also testified Tuesday.
The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. today.