Shackles requested for suspect in machete murder trial

ROGERS: Surviving victim will take the stand today.

December 16, 2008 

PALMER -- For the second time in the machete murder trial of Christopher Erin Rogers Jr., the prosecution has requested the defendant be shackled.

Not for acting up because he hasn't, other than uttering a couple of unsavory things before court got under way on Tuesday -- calling his dead dad's dog, the 150-pound mastiff mix that intervened in the rampage, a "retard," and making a nasty comment about a woman that prompted his mother on the other side of the courtroom barrier to suggest he watch his mouth.

Prosecutor Roman Kalytiak wants those legs in shackles because his father's fiancee, Elann "Lennie" Moren, is expected to take the witness stand this morning. Knowing the defendant is chained will make it just a little easier on her, Kalytiak told the judge.

Rogers, 29, faces a dozen charges in Palmer Superior Court, including hacking his father to death with a machete and chopping up Moren. Next year he'll be tried for crimes he allegedly committed later, after a rampage in Anchorage left a college student dead and a law clerk and a landscape architect hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

Moren barely survived. And she saw and heard her "soul mate" die in the most horrific way.

She'll never be the same, longtime friend, Pamela Clemens, testified on Monday. She was a hairdresser and now she can't even hold a pair of scissors. And that's just the beginning of her injuries.

The emotional level of the courtroom is "going to be ramped up significantly" when Moren tells her story, Kalytiak said.

No police officer, no homicide investigator, no forensic scientist, no amount of gruesome evidence can tell it the way she can.

Moren attended opening statements last week with her son and other supporters, but slipped out before the prosecution played her 911 call for the jury. She was hoping it would help take the edge off the day she'd have to take the stand, according to Ronda Marcy, a paralegal and friend who's served as her advocate throughout the trial.

Before walking through the courtroom door, she sat in a small adjacent conference room and put her head down on the table. Once she mustered up her courage, she walked in and saw her alleged attacker -- a man who would have become her stepson in June -- for the first time since the attacks.

In addition to shackles, Kalytiak also asked the judge if, rather than the witness stand, Moren could be allowed to sit at the far end of the prosecution table, blocked by attorneys, so she wouldn't have to see the defendant.

Superior Court Judge Vanessa White said yes to the shackles, no to the unorthodox seating arrangement. But the shackles come off as soon as Moren is finished testifying.

The machete will remain in the exhibit locker while she's on the stand too.

Find Debra McKinney online at adn.com/contact/dmckinney or call 257-4465.

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