By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Were they all lying? As Baxendale recalls it, he was the man with the badge. He says it's possible that Rutherford "borrowed" the badge for the second robbery--if they wouldn't give him a gun, why not a badge?--but that doesn't explain how the badge ended up in Baxendale's possession when he was arrested the following night. Both men say they didn't see each other again after Hoffman and Baxendale left Rutherford at the second robbery scene.
Podboy doesn't believe it matters. "I don't think any one detail sank him," he says. "If he had the badge or he didn't, he was part of the robbery. A lot of times you have victims who aren't up for sainthood, but there's still no excuse for the kind of assault they endured."
The other witnesses probably didn't hurt Rutherford as much as his decision to testify in his own defense. Fending off Podboy's aggressive, sarcastic cross-examination, he came across as smug and arrogant. Everyone who said he had a badge was mistaken, he said. So was the waitress at the Sheridan Saloon who said that she'd overheard the trio discussing a robbery and that she'd seen Rutherford return to the bar with blood on his cheek, looking for his friends. Bud had willingly given him a ride, he insisted, and he'd promised to try to get Bud's watch back. As for Mary, she'd lied about not knowing him because she was "covering up the fact that they were selling cocaine."
"We had no evidence," Morrissey says now. "What I had, I put on the witness stand, and the jury chose not to believe one word that Mr. Rutherford said. Podboy just demolished him."
The cross-examination went so well that Podboy decided he didn't need the testimony of Baxendale, who was waiting in his office as a possible rebuttal witness. To believe Rutherford, he told the jury, was "to disbelieve every single eyewitness in favor of the defendant's bold and curious claim that he was being forced to take part in robberies against his will."
No one bought that claim. Under Colorado law, a person who "aids, abets, advises or encourages" another in the planning or commission of a robbery is guilty of complicity, and an accomplice is just as guilty as the robber himself. The jury found Rutherford guilty on all nine counts. Judge Coughlin tried to give him 24 years but later had to revise the sentence; each count had to be served consecutively with the other counts from the same incident. Still, Coughlin gave Rutherford the most lenient sentence he could: sixty years--twenty times the amount of time the prosecution had considered to be a fair offer before trial.
"It was a hell of a jolt, when you consider he was offered no more than three years," Morrissey says. "I wouldn't say that's too common, but it does happen. It's a risk that you run."
While Baxendale pleaded guilty and Rutherford proclaimed his innocence, Dean Roundy waffled. He fired his public defender, insisted on private attorneys, then fired them, too, claiming the right to represent himself. At one point he toyed with the idea of testifying in Rutherford's defense. He even prepared an affidavit, trying to portray Rutherford as acting under duress without incriminating himself, but it was never submitted to the court.
On the morning of October 15, 1992, the day he was supposed to plead guilty and receive a sentence of fifteen years in prison, he was found hanging by a bedsheet in his cell at the Denver County Jail. He left behind a suicide note addressed to his attorneys, blaming Baxendale for his troubles. Like its multifarious author, it was full of lies and delusions.
"I am not a drug addict," he wrote. "The shit called 'rock crack cocaine' is not my game. I never liked it and now I have a deep, very deep anger at what this drug does to people...Due to my big heart to help Baxendale get away from cocaine, I myself am caught right up in the middle of the shit...the desire to fly is all gone and so am I. I am left with a conscious mind definitely separated from my own true individuality."
He signed the note, "Sincerely, David Hoffman."
Harry Titcombe, one of Roundy's attorneys, says that a relative from Utah, possibly a brother of his client, made the funeral arrangements. Titcombe found out that Dean Roundy had a history he'd never known about.
"It was like he had another, completely different life," he says.
Peer 1 was no picnic. It was a bunch of ex-dope fiends in your face all day, screaming at you, demanding that you admit that you were the sorriest excuse for a human being the world has ever known. You couldn't con them because they already knew every con from the inside out. Baxendale knew that one false step would be his last.
In the spring of 1993, his first wife and a daughter were killed in a car wreck. He was allowed to travel out of state for the funeral. They offered him cocktails on the plane. The moment he'd dreaded, the defining moment, had arrived.