Closing arguments in Rogers trial set for today

Defendant says memory of events from night Black was shot, killed in tavern is hazy

Posted: Friday, March 09, 2007

After nearly five weeks of testimony in the Shawn Rogers murder trial, the defense rested its case Thursday morning with Rogers maintaining he did not point his gun at anyone in the Beluga tavern 2 1/2 years ago and he did not shoot anyone.

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 July 26, 2004.

Following closing arguments by assistant district attorney Scot Leaders and defense attorney Chuck Robinson scheduled for this morning, the jury will receive instructions before beginning its deliberations.

Rogers, who was on the witness stand in his own defense for a second day Thursday, said he is hazy about details regarding the 2004 shooting and he was in and out of consciousness that night.

He insisted he was jumped by three men, causing his gun to fire. He said he was not the shooter.

Black was killed by a single bullet from Rogers’ .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun. The round entered Black’s left side just below his armpit, shattered a rib, punctured a lung and his aorta before lodging in his lower spine.

Witnesses who testified earlier in the trial — many who were Black’s co-workers at the Chugach Electric power plant — said Black and Rogers exchanged words at the bar, Rogers pulled the gun and pointed it at Black, Black pushed away from his bar stool and went and confronted Rogers, the gun went off twice and Black fell to the floor dead.

During cross examination of Rogers, Leaders pointed out that on Wednesday Rogers said an Alaska State Trooper in uniform escorted him to a room in the basement of Fat Albert’s following the shooting, where he was held until being flown to Kenai and taken to Wildwood Pretrial Facility.

On Thursday, Rogers said a trooper wearing a suit took him downstairs.

“You know, I don’t remember ... a little hazy,” said Rogers. “I don’t have clear memories of every detail that happened that evening.”

“A little hazy like you don’t remember pointing a gun across the bar?” asked Leaders.

“I didn’t point the gun across the bar,” Rogers said.

“Or you don’t remember taking your gun and shooting Mr. Black?” asked Leaders.

“I didn’t shoot Mr. Black,” Rogers said.

Alaska Bureau of Investigations Trooper Sgt. Dane Gilmore, who was one of the first troopers to arrive at the crime scene the night of the shooting, was recalled to the witness stand Thursday.

Gilmore said he was not wearing a suit and necktie when he went to Beluga. He was wearing a dark blue field work uniform, referred to as “BDUs.” Sgt. Barry Wilson, the trooper who responded with Gilmore was in his customary patrol uniform.

Robinson challenged Gilmore’s testimony, asking if there were any photos of Gilmore taken at the scene that night. Gilmore said he did not believe so.

Rogers testified that of the three men who jumped him, he only knew Ron Thebeau — he did not know at the time the others were the victim and Chuck Thome.

Leaders played a portion of a tape from Gilmore’s personal recorder on which Rogers can be heard asking: “Is Hawkeye still with us?”; “Is Hawkeye OK?”

Hawkeye was Brian Black’s nickname.

Rogers explained, saying, while he was being held for troopers’ arrival, he kept hearing people who were administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Black calling out to him by the nickname.

A woman can be heard crying loudly in the background of the tape.

While it was being played in court, the victim’s mother, Sandra Black, who has attended the court proceedings every day since the trial began, sobbed quietly into a tissue.

Retired Anchorage Judge Larry Card, who is serving as judge pro-tem in the trial, instructed jurors to return at 8:30 this morning for closing arguments.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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