Judge rejects Rogers' attempt to fire lawyer

March 25, 2009 

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth is presiding over the trial of Christopher Erin Rogers, Jr., which opened March 24, 2009, at Nesbett Courthouse. Rogers is on trial for murder and attempted murder.


Day two of Christopher Erin Rogers' murder trial started with most of the participants waiting in the hall while Rogers tried to fire his lawyer, David Weber, in a private conference with the judge.

It was a fitting beginning for a day that veered frequently into the unexpected.

Tuesday Weber laid out what might be called "the E.T. defense," telling jurors that Rogers confessed to shooting three strangers, killing one of them, because aliens made him do it.

But aliens probably didn't make him do anything, so that was a lie, Weber pointed out, as was the rest of his confession. Weber used several slides of aliens, including E.T., to illustrate his points.

On Wednesday, Weber used his cross-examination of police officers to confirm for the jury that no aliens were spotted in the neighborhood on Dec. 3, 2007, the day Rogers was arrested.

Rogers, his effort to fire Weber rejected by the judge, rocked in his seat at the defense table, twisting his long mustache. Its handlebars framed the beard he had gathered into a rubber band halfway down his chest.

Rogers has been convicted of a machete attack in Palmer that left his father dead and his father's fiancee severely injured. Police say that afterward he drove to Anchorage and shot strangers at random -- Jason Wenger, Liz Rumsey, and Tamas Deak. Wenger died. Rumsey and Deak survived multiple gunshot wounds.

The first police witness was Det. Dave Cordie, who described for the prosecution how he saw Rogers in a stolen Jeep shortly after Deak's shooting. He said he followed the car as it drove wildly in rush-hour traffic. He eventually ran his cruiser into the Jeep to stop it, he said.

Then it was time for Weber's cross examination, which went along routinely until he asked the detective if, the morning of the pursuit, he sensed that his radio was being jammed by an "other-worldly power."

No, the detective said.

And did he happen to see any vehicles not manufactured in Europe, Asia, or Detroit?

The detective paused. No, he said.

What about "entities" that did not "fit the pattern" of a normal human being?

No, the detective said.

Jurors looked puzzled but Weber said he had no further questions.

Officer John Glor took the stand next. He explained for the district attorney that he also rammed the fleeing Jeep.

Weber took his turn, first with predictable questions about the pursuit. Then he inquired whether Glor saw any vehicles not manufactured on earth.

Glor said he didn't understand the question.

"Did you see anything that looked like an extraterrestrial vehicle, sir?" Weber asked.

No, Glor said.

In the gallery, a few people snorted. Jurors grimaced. Weber went on.

Did Glor ever suspect, as he was listening to Det. Cordie on the radio, that it wasn't Cordie at all but instead an "alien entity?"

No, Glor said.

The defense attorney pressed: did he see or hear any aliens?

No, Glor said, he did not.

After a few more routine questions, Weber thanked him for his time.

The trial continues today.

Find Julia O'Malley online at adn.com/contact/jomalley or call 257-4591.

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