Craig Leroy Fief, on trial for the December 2012 murder of Shane Arredondo, told the Moffat County Court on Wednesday that he would not testify on his own behalf.
Fief’s announcement came as a surprise, since even his lawyer, Jeremy Snow, said he had not anticipated Fief's change of heart. Fief had been expected to testify since the beginning of the trial. Snow said his client was making the decision based on Judge Michael O’Hara’s final decision on jury instructions.
Snow pleaded with the court to include provocation and manslaughter as options for the jury to consider in jury instructions.
According to court testimony, Fief stabbed Arredondo four to five times with a butcher knife because Fief believed Arredondo was having an affair with his wife.
Snow argued that Fief was incited into a rage after seeing his wife and Arredondo together, which could qualify Fief’s actions as provocation. Then Snow suggested that manslaughter should be considered because he said Fief’s behavior demonstrated recklessness and not intent to kill.
“The use of a deadly weapon alone does not prove intent,” Snow said.
O’Hara denied both requests.
Earlier in the day, court proceedings started with an intense exchange between Snow and investigator Doug Winters, who questioned Fief the morning after Arredondo died.
Snow asked Winters if, throughout the questioning, officers ever asked Fief if he intended to kill Arredondo.
“Did you ever ask the question, ‘Did you intend to kill Mr. Arredondo?’” Snow said.
Winters and Snow went back and forth. Winters said the answer had been deduced through the questioning, but Snow pushed for a "yes" or "no" answer.
“No, we did not,” Winters said. “We didn’t ask him those specific questions because I think it was covered in the interview.”
After Winters stepped down from the stand, the prosecution rested its case. The defense then started calling its witnesses.
Snow called two of Fief’s friends to the stand to comment on Fief's character. Both attested to the defendant's “honest” reputation.
Russel Taylor, of Craig, said he and Fief connected over their sons’ participation in sports.
“I know him about as well as you can know a friend. He’s a caring, compassionate person,” Taylor said. “I believe him to be a very honest and forthcoming man.”
When the prosecution asked Taylor how he thought Fief’s reputation stood up in town currently, Taylor said, “I think people view Lee (Fief) the way they always have."
O’Hara said he anticipates closing statements will start and finish Thursday, and the jury will begin deliberating that afternoon.
Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.