Trial begins for David Lechner, Colorado man accused of killing soon-to-be ex-wife at her home

Prosecutors alleged David Lechner plotted to kill his wife prior to their final divorce hearing. Defense attorneys argue the shooting was not premediated and instead was self-defense.
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Posted at 5:25 PM, Apr 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 08:24:58-04

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Opening statements began Monday for the trial involving a Colorado man accused of murdering his wife a day before their final divorce court hearing.

Tracy Lechner, 42, was shot and killed on the morning of March 30, 2023. Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office investigators said her husband David Lechner ambushed her in the garage of the home she shared with their young daughter and son. According to family, Tracy Lechner and David Lechner had not lived together in years.

He faces several charges: first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, use of a stun gun and felony menacing with a real or simulated weapon. He was taken into custody that same day in Arapahoe County.

Trial begins for David Lechner, Colorado man accused of killing soon-to-be ex-wife at her home

In court Monday, prosecutors pointed to a lengthy three-year divorce process as a possible motive for the murder. During their opening statements, they showed surveillance images that reportedly show David Lechner in an elaborate disguise buying a tarp, zip ties, and duct tape with cash. They also allege that David Lechner had purchased a car with cash off Craigslist a few weeks prior, and used a fake name to do so. He was pulled over in that vehicle after the shooting, prosecutors said.

Prosecutor Tory Reavis told jurors that the supplies — the tarp, zip ties and tape — were found in David Lechner's home along with a large amount of cash and several passports. Attorneys said a plumber who was in the neighborhood saw the shooting and rammed the suspect's car in an effort to keep him on scene. Minutes later, deputies pulled over the car and took David Lechner into custody.

The prosecution showed photos of the inside of that car, and pointed out the disguise and a gun. They are aiming to build a case to argue that David Lechner had planned the murder.

Defense attorneys pointed to the lengthy divorce process to explain that David Lechner was exhausted and consumed by the long drawn out proceedings. They claimed he went to Tracy Lechner's home that morning in an "ill-advised" attempt to convince her not to go to the hearing the next day. Then, the two got into a conflict. The defense said they do not dispute that David Lechner shot and killed Tracy Lechner, but they said it happened only after Tracy Lechner stabbed him several times during the struggle. Photographs of several stab wounds on David Lechner's buttocks and leg were shown in court.

At one point, defense attorney Katie Telfer told the jury they should find David Lechner guilty of the crimes he committed based on the evidence, but that the evidence will not support a guilty verdict for the charge of first-degree murder. The defense was insistent that he had no intention of going over to her house that day to kill her.

Testimony began by showing body-worn camera footage from the first deputy on scene and the deputy who eventually pulled David Lechner over outside the neighborhood that morning and took him into custody. The first responding officer testified Tracy Lechner was found in a pool of blood with obvious gunshot wounds. He also testified that a knife was found in her hand.

Body-camera video taken shortly after David Lechner was taken into custody showed first responders asking him what happened. Lechner was heard responding, "I couldn't take it anymore. My ex was hurting my kids" and "She was emotionally abusing my kids."

The prosecution was quick to note, at that time, David Lechner never mentioned he acted in self-defense or that Tracy Lechner had attacked him first.

Neighbors who were walking in the neighborhood that morning and rushed to help after hearing screams during the struggle testified that David Lechner was dressed in a long coat with a face covering. They testified that they saw a man and woman struggling, then the man loading a gun and quickly shooting the woman.

Defense attorneys pointed out that none of the witnesses who spoke so far had seen how the altercation between the two started, only how it ended.

The judge said the trial is expected to last for six days.

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