ebay mulberry Murder for hire trial ends in conviction
A murder for hire case following a convoluted trail of business deals involving government officials and an alleged sexual assault ended Thursday with the conviction of Ronald D. Graff of Larkspur in a Fort Morgan courtroom.
Graff was accused of trying to hire a longtime friend, Ron Walters, an ex convict living in the Sterling area, to kill former business partner Eric Dendorfer.
Graff met at a Fort Morgan motel with a hit man who turned out to be an undercover Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent, according to testimony.
The two were involved in an investment plan that turned sour; neither realized any return on the investment, and that and an allegation that Dendorfer either masterminded or participated in an alleged sexual assault on Graff wife resulted in the end of the two men relationship and bad feelings between the two, according to testimony in the nearly two week trial.
of the most complex cases I seen come down the pike in awhile, said District Attorney Robert Watson.
Jamie Tholson, in her first trial with the 13th Judicial District after coming over from the 18th, did a great job on the case, Watson said.
She was up against two very competent trial lawyers, he added Joseph A. Gavaldon and Shannon Lyons.
Watson pointed to a long grand jury investigation and a cooperative effort among Sterling police, the DA office, CBI and the Douglas County Sheriff Department.
Gavaldon said he was disappointed for Ronnie and said he would prepare strong arguments for the sentencing hearing.
He also indicated that Graff had the right to appeal and thought he would exercise that right.
The relationship between Graff and Dendorfer soured after the two invested in a business deal that involved trying to track down funds taken out of the Philippines by former president Ferdinand Marcos and taking a percentage of the recovered funds.
Graff thought Dendorfer was getting paid on his investment while Graff and other investors were not, Dendorfer testified. government was involved in the business scheme,
The defense tried to discredit the testimony of Walters, pointing out that he was a convicted car thief and claiming that he was jealous of Graff business success and upset about Graff having some of his and his mother items in his home.
The defense also pointed out that Graff told the undercover CBI agent, Pat Crouch, out, but
Tholson said that Graff backed out because he figured out that Crouch was a law enforcement agent and was afraid he would get caught.
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