Almost two years after the shooting that first paralyzed their son, Richard Velarde, and then eventually claimed his life, Richard’s parents, Jody and Butch, finally have a small sense of closure.
On Thursday, November 1, Michael Rollie, the man who’d been accused of shooting Richard (pictured here and profiled in the feature It Happened One Night) and three others during a wild spree in the streets of LoDo on Thanksgiving Eve 2005 was found guilty of three charges of attempted manslaughter, two charges of first-degree assault, one charge of second-degree assault, one charge of attempted first-degree murder and one for murder in the first degree. The last two charges pertained to Richard Velarde, the only victim to die as a result of the shooting.
While the defense attorney for Rollie (his third, not including Rollie’s short-lived attempts to represent himself) tried to paint Richard and several others involved in the night’s drama as gangbangers, red-clad Northside Mafia who antagonized Rollie to the point where he legitimately feared for his life and had to fight back, the jury didn’t buy it. Nor did they believe the defense’s claim that segments of videotape from inside Market 41 (now Cowboy Lounge), as well as security footage from outside both Market 41 and the Soiled Dove (now the Tavern Uptown), was conveniently missing. Instead, they seemed to take their cues from the prosecutor, who invoked John Locke’s words that a man’s actions are the best indications of his thought, and added that there was “nothing that suggests that there was a reason for Rollie to put bullets into people.”
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The jury agreed, and convicted Rollie. A formal sentencing is set for December 18, but he’ll definitely be going away for a long time.
Richard’s mother is relieved by that. “You know, I’ve waited two years to have some kind of justice and as time went on I didn’t really even associate Rollie with my son’s death,” Jody says. “I tried not to. I focused my behavior on doing everything possible to make sure that this man could never hurt another family like he’s hurt ours. That was my goal. I could have been angry and furious, but I just tried to stay composed in court, to not do anything to get in the way. My mindset was making sure this guy was put away. It was very, very hard to sit through, though. I’m just glad this part of it is over.”
But the violence in LoDo continues. Early Sunday morning, a confrontation inside Hush, a club at 1403 Larimer Street, apparently led to another shooting spree in the area. Seven people were injured and one man, Ted Padilla, was killed.
In an ironic twist, Ted Padilla and Richard Velarde had once been friends. – Adam Cayton-Holland