Testimony by a state witness in the murder trial of Shawn Rogers on Wednesday resulted in the judge asking that the Kenai district attorney address the court this morning.
“We ought to have Miss (June) Stein here the first thing in the morning,” Judge Larry Card told assistant district attorney Scot Leaders, who is representing the state in its case against Rogers.
Rogers is the 33-year-old Kenai man charged with the shooting death of Brian Black, 43, of Beluga, in Fat Albert’s Tavern and Bunkhouse in Beluga, July 26, 2004.
During cross examination of Ron Thebeau, a tavern patron the night of the shooting, defense attorney Chuck Robinson asked Thebeau if he had ever told Alaska State Troopers, investigating officers or the grand jury that he saw a muzzle flash from the gun that caused the death of Black.
“I think I told (District Attorney) June Stein,” Thebeau said.
“Did you tell Mr. Leaders you saw a muzzle blast?” asked Robinson.
“I don’t recall. I think so,” Thebeau said.
After the jury left the courtroom, Robinson told the court the defense had never received word of those conversations, a shortcoming he described as “a matter of injustice” to the accused.
“I feel compelled to call Miss Stein and Scot Leaders to the stand,” Robinson said.
Card asked whether the late disclosure of the conversations if confirmed would necessitate Robinson asking for a mistrial.
“It might,” said Robinson.
During testimony Tuesday, Thebeau said he had worked at the Chugach Electric power plant in Beluga for 17 years and has since retired to Arizona.
Previously he had known Black in Arizona and brought him up to Alaska to work with him at Chugach.
On the day of the shooting, Thebeau, Black and Mike Sowards had been at Black’s cabin after work and headed to Fat Albert’s to get some cigarettes and beer, Thebeau said.
He said Rogers was being obnoxious that night and came up and kissed him and tried to kiss him a second time when Thebeau told him to go away.
“He looked at me and said, ‘You want a part of me?’” Thebeau said.
“I said, ‘No. Nobody wants a part of you Shawn, at all,’” he said.
“Hawkeye gave me a grin like, ‘What’s this guy want?’” he said referring to Black whose nickname was Hawkeye.
Thebeau said he saw Rogers go bother some patrons from the village of Tyonek as well.
Later he heard his friend, Hawkeye, say, “You pull a - gun on me?”
When Thebeau turned to see what was happening, he said he saw Rogers at the end of the bar with a gun in his right hand.
“I seen the gun come up, I heard a report and another report. He shot him,” Thebeau said, of Rogers allegedly shooting Black.
Using dolls that assisting defense lawyer Eric Derleth had set up in the courtroom for demonstration purposes, Thebeau described the action as he said he saw it.
He said Rogers pointed the gun across the bar; Black moved toward Rogers with Chuck Thome following closely behind; Rogers moved his right arm with the gun around and under Black’s left arm and shot.
“I think they came in contact when he shot him,” Thebeau said.
“Hawkeye kinda folded; Chuck (Thome) took Shawn (Rogers) down, and I got over there,” he said.
“Someone yelled, ‘Hawk’s shot,’ and I saw the gun laying there,” Thebeau said, indicating the gun was near Rogers’ feet.
“My first thought was get the gun and get it out of there,” he said.
He said he removed it to the arctic entry where he placed the gun atop a cased door propped up in the tavern entrance. He also said the ammunition magazine was lying on the floor immediately beside the gun. He did not know how the magazine came out of the gun. He placed that on the door next to the gun.
During his cross examination, Robinson asked Thebeau whether he had told investigators Black jumped up, ran over to where Rogers was, went down in the corner, then heard two booms.
“That may be out of context,” said Thebeau. “It was boom, boom, then they went down.”
“You said three times in that same interview (with Trooper Dane Gilmore), ‘They went down and you heard two shots,’” Robinson said.
After Thebeau reviewed printed transcripts of his interview, he said, “These are my statements, but that’s not what happened.”
Robinson also questioned Thebeau about statements he had made to the grand jury regarding a scuffle between Rogers and Black before the gun went off.
“Why didn’t you tell the jury yesterday there was a scuffle?” asked Robinson.
“There wasn’t a scuffle,” Thebeau said.
“Did you make the statement to the grand jury in response to the question: How long did they struggle before the gun went off? you said, ‘A second,’ correct?” Robinson asked.
“That’s what I answered a second not much of a struggle,” Thebeau said.
In an attempt to clarify his statement, Leaders asked Thebeau if he could describe what he meant by a struggle.
“I said scuffle,” Thebeau said.
The jury has been asked to return to the courthouse at 8:30 this morning.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek @peninsulaclarion.com.
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