Bond lowered for suspect in Fruita slaying
A military veteran with training in explosives who is accused of killing a Fruita man was described by a prosecutor Monday as a “loose cannon” with a history of alcoholism and mental health disorders who believed he would make “a good hit man.”
Wayne Gert, 37, told one witness he had one regret about the prospect of dying when he fell ill some six months ago, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told a judge Monday.
“He said his one regret (about dying) was not knowing what it was like to take a life,” Rubinstein said.
The prosecutor’s comments came during a bond hearing for Gert, who is charged with second-degree murder, among other counts, in the May 21 shooting death of his roommate, 37-year-old Henry Trisler Jr., at a Fruita mobile home park.
District Judge Thomas Deister agreed to lower Gert’s bond to $300,000.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Gert, who has been held at the Mesa County Jail on $500,000 bond since his arrest, could post the lowered bond.
Andrew Ho, Gert’s public defender, said Gert’s family in Grand Junction was prepared to put up their property, allowing them to post a $100,000 bond. Ho had argued for that amount during Monday’s hearing, citing Gert’s lack of any prior criminal history. Gert’s sole source of income, a monthly disability check from Veterans Affairs, is scheduled to end if Gert remains in custody past Aug. 22.
Gert allegedly shot Trisler in the head May 21 after Gert claimed his roommate had approached him in a threatening manner, explaining to arresting Fruita police officers that he had been “trained to shoot to kill,” according to an arrest affidavit. Trisler was unarmed.
Rubinstein on Monday argued Gert would pose a continuing danger if freed, citing a witness who told authorities that Gert “knew more about explosives in the ninth or tenth grade than most first-year military or law enforcement officers.”
When Fruita authorities executed a search warrant at Gert’s mobile home, they recovered detonation cord and a timing device for explosives, Rubinstein told the judge. Gert was described as using a battery on one occasion to blow up a pair of pipe bombs he constructed, the prosecutor said.
In a conversation involving yet another witness, Gert believed himself to be a good hit man, while discussing his ex-wife in Oregon, Rubinstein said.
Gert served in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 1997, achieving the rank of specialist while training in rocket systems. Ho on Monday said Gert earned the Army’s Good Conduct Medal, while noting “the government trusted him with a security clearance.”
Rubinstein told the judge that Gert at one point kept a photo on his television showing a man next to the barrel end of a handgun with a caption underneath reading “wait for the flash.”
Gert appeared intoxicated to arresting Fruita officers on May 21. Gert’s father told The Daily Sentinel his son battled severe alcoholism while receiving medications through Grand Junction’s VA for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.