By Mary Lowers
Charles Moises Gonzales, 47, of Saguache was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, December, 7 having been found guilty of all six charges against him in the murder of mountain bike pioneer Mike Rust in 2009. The defense rested its case on Wednesday and the closing arguments from the defense and prosecution were heard. The jury deliberation began at 5PM.
Judge Newmyer-Olsen instructed jurors before they went into deliberation, “it is your job to use common sense and decide.” Eight scenarios from Gonzales of the crime had been presented over the course of the investigation and trial. These included the story Gonzales originally told police while incarcerated on the eastern slope on other charges. He said Rust was shot in self defense “turning the story around” according to fellow jail inmate Philip Romero who said Gonzales told him about the murder. Romero told the court, Gonzales said, “He broke into his house, stole a gun, shot him with his own gun. Said he had a hard time putting his body into the back of the truck and he dug a hole and buried him.”
In exchange for his testimony Romero had his sixteen year sentence for felony menacing and criminal trespass reduced to fourteen years. For his part Romero told the court that the deal was a good one and he was not lying. Evidence appeared to back up the account Romero gave. Testimony from Stephanie Trahey, Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s DNA specialist proved blood found on a sheepskin vest found outside Rust’s home was his. Tests on teeth and bones as well as DNA matches with Rust’s mother and brother confirmed the remains found in a pit on property owned by the Gonzales family were indeed Mike Rusts. On Wednesday Gonzales admitted to the murder and changed his plea to guilty.