The murder case against Lawrence Crouch, accused of fatally shooting Mary McGrath at East of Sweden Saab repair in Broomfield last year, is now in the hands of the jury.
Attorneys made closing arguments in the murder trial on Thursday afternoon.
Crouch has pleaded not guilty, even though an arrest affidavit indicates he told investigators that on Oct. 12 he killed McGrath, a former roommate and an employee at East of Sweden, for "stress relief."
Crouch also is accused of the attempted murder of Amber Carr, a front desk clerk at the extended stay motel in Lakewood where he lived, and other charges of attempted arson, possession of explosives or an incendiary device and crimes of violence.
The jury will begin deliberation Friday morning.
During closing arguments, lawyers on both sides debated whether Crouch murdered McGrath "after deliberation and with intent."
To convict Crouch of first-degree murder, the jury must find he intended to murder McGrath and carried out that murder deliberately.
Defense lawyers argued that Crouch should only be found guilty of second-degree murder, because there was not enough evidence to show McGrath's murder was carried out deliberately. The defense said Crouch was suicidal at the time of the murder and had not planned to kill McGrath.
Yet prosecutors said the evidence is ample enough to show Crouch clearly targeted McGrath because of past conflicts and plotted her murder a year in advance.
During closing arguments, defense lawyer Amanda Bailhache said Crouch had hit rock bottom at the time of the murder. When he shot McGrath, it was a hastily made decision he had not planned in advance, she said.
Bailhache told the jury that Crouch was suicidal on the day of the shooting, "without friends, without funds, without hope for the future," she said.
With less than $300 in his bank account and no close friends or family, Crouch had originally planned to walk into East of Sweden to kill himself in front of Bob Wisdom, his best friend and former roommate who owned the repair shop, she said.
The two hadn't spoken in a year, even though they were once very close. At the last minute, Crouch realized he couldn't shoot himself in front of his friend, she said.
Crouch's carefully laid suicide plan changed even more when McGrath walked into the lobby of the car repair shop, Bailhache said. Crouch and McGrath constantly fought when they were roommates in Wisdom's house. Wisdom kicked both of them out in 2011, causing a falling out between Crouch and Wisdom, she said.
After seeing McGrath, the person who had driven a wedge between himself and his friend, Crouch's gun turned toward McGrath, Bailhache said.
"It wasn't part of the plan," Bailhache said. "We're not saying it was an accident. It was second-degree murder, not first."
Crouch still wanted to die after shooting McGrath, but couldn't kill himself in Wisdom's presence, his attorneys said. Out of desperation and to further destroy himself, he told police he had always planned to kill McGrath and another person, motel clerk Carr, his lawyers said.
Prosecuting attorneys, however, said Crouch clearly planned the murder a year in advance and saw McGrath as a deliberate target.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Joe Pacyga said Crouch had gathered together the necessary supplies — including two guns, five ammunition clips, 47 bullets and a bomb made of gin and soap — to kill both McGrath and also Carr.
"If you're just committing suicide, one gun and one bullet will do the job," Pacyga said to the jury.
Pacyga said a video interview with Crouch provided further proof McGrath's death was not the result of a hastily made decision made by a suicidal man, but rather a carefully planned plot.
In Crouch's video taped interview with detectives just after his arrest, Broomfield Police Detective Mike Svela told Crouch he could face a first-degree murder charge.
Crouch replied, "I don't see how it could be anything else."
Crouch also is seen on the video confirming to detectives that he planned the murder about a year in advance.
In closing arguments, prosecutors said the statements made in the video interview also clearly show Crouch had planned to kill Carr and throw a homemade bomb behind the desk where she worked at the hotel.
Crouch ultimately abandoned his plan when Carr was not at work on Oct. 12, according to the arrest affidavit.
After Crouch was arrested, he told police the bomb was still in his car, which was by then parked outside of East of Sweden. The Adams County Bomb Squad detonated the homemade bomb, which was made of gin and soap.
In the video, Crouch went on to describe how he wanted to kill Carr, the motel clerk, because of her "idiotic" accounting practices.
Prosecutors said the video clearly shows Crouch deliberately planned McGrath's murder, and that he was willing to drive from his motel in Lakewood to the Broomfield repair shop in order to carry it out.
Contact Enterprise Staff Writer Megan Quinn at 303-410-2649 or email@example.com