Published DateOSSIPEE — An Albany landlord accused of attempting to kill his tenant was found not guilty by a Carroll County Superior Court jury on Tuesday.
This jury was the third to hear the case. The first case ended in a mistrial because of an issue between the defense and prosecution, and the second trial ended in a hung jury because there wasn't an unanimous verdict on any of the charges.
Moulton, 62, of 5 Moulton Drive in Albany, was charged with attempted murder and two counts of assault for allegedly stabbing Ronald Routhier, of 6 Moulton Drive, in the head, hand and back at around 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2011 at Trailside Drive in Albany. Moulton was also charged with witness tampering for allegedly threatening Routhier and his family if he told anyone about the attack.
According to Routhier, Moulton asked him to move a bulky item that was located in a storage camper. Because Routhier was behind on his rent, he had agreed to do such odd jobs for Moulton. But Routhier alleged that once he got inside the camper, he saw Moulton trying to sneak up behind him with a knife. Routhier said he pushed Moulton aside and ran for his life. Routhier said he didn't get far because he fell. At that point, Routhier said, Moulton was able to catch up and a fight ensued.
On Tuesday, the jury found Moulton not guilty of attempted murder and not guilty of witness tampering. Jurors did not reach a unanimous verdict on the assault charges.
Public defenders John Bresaw and Eric Wolpin represented Moulton.
"The outcome is a testament to the hard work and dedication put forward by John and Eric," said Jesse Friedman who is a managing attorney with the public defender's office.
With assault charges still pending, Moulton's bail was set at $2,000 cash. Moulton's attorneys are working out the next steps with the county attorney's office.
In this most recent trial, Moulton took the stand in his own defense. He declined to take the stand in the previous trial. The first trial ended in a mistrial before Moulton had the opportunity to testify. In no uncertain terms, Moulton denied stabbing Routhier.
"Did you stab Ronald Routhier?" Wolpin asked Moulton.
Moulton replied with a simple, "No."
That day, Moulton said he came home from a trip to Coleman's Concrete between 3 and 3:30 p.m. Then he went back out to check on a tenant named John "Moon" Mullins who had been living in a camper at the rear of the property.
Moulton said Mullins was feeling ill. He went to see Mullins at 4 or 4:30 p.m. Then, Moulton said he returned to his cabin for a couple of hours before going to a friend's cabin. Soon after, a sheriff's deputy, who was investigating the alleged stabbing had a recorded interview with Moulton.
Moulton said he had been unsuccessfully trying to evict Routhier. Moulton testified he told the deputy that he had planned to attempt the eviction process again in the spring.
Moulton said at the time Routhier owed him about $4,000 in back rent. Moulton said despite having some debts, he wasn't in danger of losing his property, in which he has about $250,000 in equity, but he had filed for bankruptcy. The largest claim in Moulton's bankruptcy proceeding is a $500,000 lawsuit filed against Moulton by Routhier.
Assistant county attorney Stephen Murray said Moulton was, in fact, in danger of being foreclosed on. Murray said Moulton almost got away with the "perfect crime."
During closing arguments, Bresaw called Routhier a liar. For example, said Bresaw, Routhier told the 9-1-1 operator and investigating deputies that he had fallen on the knife accidentally. Further, absolutely no one could confirm Routhier's claim that Moulton had a connection to the Hell's Angels or the Irish mafia. Moulton's alleged connection to those groups was why Routhier said he felt threatened and prosecutors pressed the witness tampering charge.
Bresaw said Routhier's story was totally unbelievable. Bresaw said it seemed unlikely that Moulton would attempt to lure Routhier to the camper in broad daylight if he was planning to commit a murder.
"They go in the trailer, he (Routhier) sees in the corner of his eye that a knife is being pulled and he pushes him (Moulton), his boots aren't laced and he falls and Mr. Moulton, who is 60 years old, is running on this slippery ice, catches up to him," said Bresaw. "Think about the Hollywood of this story."
According to Bresaw, Routhier said he and Moulton were fighting body to body, but yet there was no trace of blood on any of Moulton's clothing or in his cabin.
The prosecution maintained Moulton had jeans and a jacket soaking in bleach in his washing machine when the sheriff's deputies looked in his cabin.
Murray said Routhier's testimony was only "slightly different" than the testimony he gave at the previous trial.
"Nothing has changed about his story since he left the voicemail with his sister saying Rick (Moulton) stabbed him except that he told police that Rick didn't do it because he was afraid for his family because the defendant threatened to kill him and his family," said Murray.
In his closing arguments, Bresaw hammered prosecutors for their handling of a blood trail that was found near the camper. Routhier testified he ran 20 to 30 feet towards his cabin before he fell. But one deputy's estimate was that the blood trial went 50 feet in the opposite direction that Routhier said he traveled, said Bresaw. Later, that deputy had a conference with Murray and the estimate changed from 50 feet to 10 to 12 feet. That new estimate wasn't given to the defense before the jury heard it, Bresaw said.
"You heard that was done in violation of Mr. Moulton's right, his constitutional right to this information prior to trial," said Bresaw. "There's a reason that stuff didn't get turned over to us. The state knows this evidence doesn't make sense."
Bresaw said the jury should be "outraged" that Moulton didn't get the information sooner.
Bresaw said the sheriff's office should have investigated Mullins as a suspect. Mullins lied to investigators in his first interview and then corrected his story in a second interview, Bresaw said.
Murray accused Moulton of lying and changing his story to fit the evidence that the state had presented. Five types of evidence point to Moulton's guilt, said Murray. Those include the motive, eyewitness testimony, forensics, circumstantial evidence and the cover up evidence. According to Murray, Moulton intended for Routhier's body to taken away when he disposed of the old trailer.
"As he plunged that knife in Ronald Routhier's back, he wanted him dead," said Murray. "Mr. Moulton might have gotten away with it but Mr. Routhier fought back and foiled that plan. This was almost the perfect crime but it wasn't."
Murray could not be reached for comment Tuesday.