Fruita man sentenced to prison for killing roommate

Wayne Gert

Mesa County District Judge Thomas Deister on Tuesday sentenced a Fruita man to 22 years in prison for the shooting death of his roommate in May 2010.

Wayne Gert, 39, could have been sentenced anywhere from 16 to 48 years in prison following his October jury trial conviction on charges of second-degree murder, menacing and two counts of possession of explosive or incendiary parts, relating to the slaying of 37-year-old Henry Trisler Jr., on May 21, 2010.

Gert did not address the judge prior to sentencing and neither did Trisler’s relatives. Gert has repeatedly claimed he acted in self defense and testified he felt threatened by Trisler during an argument fueled by hours of drinking alcohol. Gert, who was seated in a chair, shot Trisler in the head with a .357 handgun. Trisler was unarmed. In a pre-sentence report, Gert told probation officials if he had it to do over again, “he wouldn’t have defended himself and would be dead.”

Gert’s defense said the statement showed remorse, but Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein called it “childish.” After receiving an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in 2001, Gert more recently spent his monthly disability checks on medical marijuana and alcohol, the prosecutor said. Gert told probation officials he consumed an “18-pack of beer a day and sat with a gun by his side all day long,” Rubinstein said.

“Had he not introduced the gun in this situation, none of this would have happened,” the prosecutor said.

Rubinstein argued a long sentence was justified because of a continuing public safety threat. Officers found literature in Gert’s trailer on topics including a hitman’s “how-to” guide, explosives, firearms, in addition to “a whole series of books on retaliation,” Rubinstein said.

One witness was prepared to testify that Gert offered to kill a man’s ex-wife for $300, the prosecutor said.

Steve Colvin, Gert’s public defender, cited his client’s lack of any prior criminal history and military service for a sentence in the lower range of possible terms.


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