Two months after an Anchor Point marijuana grower was shot to death inside his home, an Anchorage couple is behind bars, one man charged with murder and a woman with evidence tampering and cocaine possession.
A friend of Demian Sagerser found the 40-year-old man about 1 a.m. on July 8 lying on his back in the living room of his Anchor Point house, just off the Sterling Highway on the Kenai Peninsula. Sagerser was dead, shot twice with a 9mm gun, and according to charges filed in the case, Sagerser's friend told Alaska State Troopers that six pint-sized jars he'd seen at the home earlier -- each full of marijuana buds that Sagerser apparently intended to sell -- were missing. The friend said Sagerser grew the marijuana at a different location.
What the killer apparently didn't know was that Sagerser had set up a motion-activated camera, typically used for capturing photos of wild game, outside his home. The camera held a picture of the suspect: a man in a red jacket, red T-shirt and red ball cap who was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, according to the charges.
The charging document says the picture, as well as cellphone tracing and security camera footage of the accused killer and his girlfriend later using his public assistance debit card at a Walmart not far away, led state investigators to Anchorage, about 200 highway miles to the north. That's where they arrested 20-year-old Demarqus Green, charging him with second-degree murder on Aug. 31. The 5-foot-10 Green matched the description of the man seen in the camera's pictures and the Walmart surveillance video, according to the charges against him.
On Wednesday, troopers in Anchorage arrested 26-year-old Nancie Modeste for alleged evidence tampering in connection with Sagerser's death and possession of more than 100 grams of cocaine at the time of her arrest.
According to the charges against Green and Modeste, the trooper investigators found Sagerser's cellphone inside a plush chair at his house. There were records of calls between Sagerser and a phone belonging to another man, Jimmy Lamont Stevenson. Transmission data from cellphone towers showed Stevenson's phone traveled from Anchorage to Sagerser's home before the killing took place, according to the charges. The only common number on both Sagerser's phone and Stevenson's phone was that of a pre-paid cellphone that troopers linked to Green, the charges say.
Stevenson's phone was traced from Sagerser's home to a Walmart in Kenai, a little more than an hour's drive away. When the investigators looked through the store's security camera video, they spotted a man in a red jacket, red T-shirt and red ball cap and a woman who was with him, the charges say. The woman used a Quest card -- a debit card that allows its owner to make purchases with state public assistance money -- issued to Demarqus Green in June, the charges say.
Stevenson, who is not charged in the case, told troopers he met Green in Soldotna before Green borrowed Stevenson's phone and drove away with Modeste. He never returned the phone and told Stevenson he had gone to buy marijuana and "had to take care of business" when the dealer disrespected him, the charges say.
When troopers arrested Green at the end of August, the found a 9mm handgun on him. He admitted to driving with Modeste, his girlfriend, to Sagerser's to buy marijuana,, and said that the picture on the motion-activated camera was indeed him. But Green denied shooting Sagerser, according to the charges.
In an interview with an unnamed associate of Green, Modeste and Stevenson, the associate said Modeste had talked about Green being a "murderer" and mentioned that she'd helped her boyfriend burn his clothes and other evidence from the fatal shooting after "it went down."
The officers who arrested Modeste on Wednesday had a warrant accusing her of evidence tampering in the fatal shooting. They found a total of 118 grams of cocaine on Modeste or in her vehicle, as well as three handguns, one of which was stolen, troopers said. Modeste had some of the crack and powder cocaine in gram-sized baggies on her person. The charges against her say that troopers found another 85 grams of crack under her driver's seat in a black safe, which also held a scale, baking soda and a grinder. Modeste told the trooper she sold crack for $70 per gram to support her own habit.
Both Modeste and Green remained jailed in Anchorage as of late Thursday.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.