Man claims he remembers little of the night he allegedly tried to beat a woman to death in Eagle County
EAGLE — Pedro Gonzalez claims he remembers little or nothing after the first time he hit Dita Richterova in the head with a beer bottle.
Gonzalez took the stand in his own defense during his attempted murder trial.
Defense Attorney Thea Reiff opened his testimony by trying to get to Gonzalez’ intentions when he hit her with a beer bottle, then with his fists, kicked and choked her.
Gonzalez admitted he attacked and beat Dita Richterova while she was working along in Eagle’s Brush Creek Saloon, which is plainly obvious in the saloon’s security video. However, he claims he did not try to kill her.
“Did you have the intent to kill Dita Richterova?” Reiff asked him.
“No,” he said.
“Those punches, do you think they hurt?” Reiff asked.
“Of course,” he said.
SHE SAID SHE DIDN’T SAY IT
Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum targeted Gonzalez spotty memory of the attack, and the reason he says he flew into such an extended rage. He claims she called him an “effing wetback.”
McCollum re-called Richterova to the witness stand to ask whether she called him that, or anything else mean or derogatory.
“No I didn’t. I’ve never heard that word before,” Richterova said.
HE SAID SHE DID
He said the term “wetback,” triggered his violent response.
He said she called him that while he was standing at the bar, as she was facing away from him and walking to the kitchen to put away the broom she had been using clean up she could close and go home.
“If someone uses that word, does that person deserve to be struck in the head with a beer bottle?” McCollum asked Gonzalez.
“No,” he said.
“How many times does a person deserve to be kicked?” McCollum asked.
“None,” Gonzalez said.
“Does that person deserve to be kicked?”
“No,” he said.
Gonzales testified that he remembers being called that “10 or 15 times” before in his 35-year life.
He did not attack the people through the years who called him that, he said.
HE REMEMBERS, HE DOESN’T REMEMBER
He said he did not remember anything after he punched Richterova the first time.
He remembers carrying on a conversation in the saloon about the army with a military veteran.
He remembers he was not angry with anyone else in the bar.
He remembers being annoying to Richterova.
He remembers hearing “that word,” and he snapped at that moment and wanted to hurt her.
He remembers he attacked her, but “lost memory” when he went outside.
He does not remember what happened on Broadway Street outside the Brush Creek Saloon.
He remembers walking through the Eagle Police Department parking lot to get home.
He doesn’t remember getting home or going to bed.
He does remember waking up at 5:30 a.m., “really drunk,” and waiting for the police, whom he said would surely come.
Gonzalez grew up in Harlingen, Texas, and went to high school there. He found some trouble as a teenager, he said, earning a felony conviction for burglary. He said he was 17 when he and a couple friends from high school went into a store that was closed, but did not steal anything.
He was on probation a year later he when he and those same friends did another burglary conviction. Neither involved violence, and he has had no serious trouble since, Gonzalez said.
He left Harlingen for Arlington, Texas, to leave behind those friends, “start new,” and work with his uncle.
A couple felony convictions made job seeking more challenging, he said. When he applied for a job, they would come up, and the job would fly away from him.
He found work in a McDonald’s restaurant where Julia Saldana, his future wife came in with her aunt. They became friends, and eventually married. She’s a Mexican national, he said.
He said he thought that marrying her would make it easier for her to become a U.S. citizen. He soon learned it’s far more complicated and expensive. In Texas it would cost him $28,000.
Her visa expired, so they went to Mexico to live. He went to Mexico because, he said, “I was in love with her. She’s my wife.”
He found work as a busboy is Juarez, Mexico, earning 700 pesos a week, roughly $35.
One of his friends gave him a card from an Eagle County roofing company. Because he speaks Spanish and English, they offered him a job and he took off for Colorado, working as a roofer for $12 an hour, and a second job in a McDonald’s.
He saw his family three times a year, he said.
To bring his wife and children to the U.S., he’d have to be able to prove he was earning $36,000 a year. He couldn’t earn that much, he said. He was close, but missed, and he missed his family terribly, he said.
He returned to Juarez in 2010 to be with his family, working 80 hours a week or more across the border in the U.S. at a couple restaurants. He’d get up at 5 a.m., because the line at the border crossing was often three hours long.
He did that for three years.
“It was worth it to be with my wife,” Gonzalez said.
In 2013, he returned to Eagle County and the same roofing company. He soon found a higher-paying job, $17 an hour for 12 hours a day, for two years. He always sent some of his money home, no matter what he was earning.
He hired an immigration attorney to get her U.S. citizenship. In the meantime, he found another higher-paying job with a local pool and spa company. They were more understanding about more frequent trips to Mexico to see his family, he said.
They even managed to take a vacation to the beach.
Each time they got together, his impending departure hung over them, as did everything he would miss, he said.
Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 6. After that, the case goes to the jury for deliberation and a verdict.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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