The jury in the Christopher Erin Rogers murder trial sat through nearly two hours of his video-taped confession Thursday.
They watched as Rogers, slumped in a chair in a barren police interview room back in 2007, detailed just how dangerous this city was for two days as he cased neighborhoods, hopped over fences and hid in dark corners of people's yards, looking for the opportunity to kill.
Rogers has already been tried and convicted in Palmer for the first phase of a murder binge that began early the morning of Dec. 2, 2007. During that trial last year, the Palmer court made sure jurors didn't know what happened in phase two, once he got to Anchorage.
This trial, where he's accused of shooting three strangers in Anchorage, killing one, is different. There's more overlap, since the murder weapon and pickup with its gory interior from the Palmer crimes ended up here. But the door opened wider for admitting evidence from the Palmer case when Rogers' attorney decided to attack Rogers' confession, which included him talking about the Palmer attacks.
Rogers claimed aliens made him do it, and because there was not a single alien to be found, nor even an alien footprint in the snow, that part was fiction, so obviously the confession was bogus, defense attorney David Weber told jurors in opening statements.
After exercising extra caution to exclude from the Anchorage jury pool anyone who knew too much about the Palmer case, that line of defense opened the door for prosecutors to bring in the whole story. Jurors should be able to watch the confession and decide for themselves what was real and what was not, prosecutors said.
Now the jury knows quite a lot about what happened on Gunnysack Road in Palmer the morning Rogers walked into his father's bedroom with a machete and started swinging. By the time he was done, his father was dead, his father's fiancee was gravely wounded and the family dog that tried to intervene was cut up and out whimpering in the yard.
Rogers was convicted of those crimes in December.
After the Anchorage shootings, after he was caught, investigators told Rogers he didn't have to talk to them if he didn't want to. They told him he could have a lawyer present. He said he didn't care.
"I am screwed no matter how, no matter what I say or how I explain it," he told them as they recorded his words. "No matter whose story you hear or what story you hear it's nothing good."
The investigators didn't argue with him.
During the interrogation, conducted by detectives Steve Hill and Curtis Vik, Rogers said he killed a couple of people. He said he'd planned to kill more. He rambled then raged about his family and the way he was treated like a nobody, a slave, an idiot. He spoke of fights with his father that got physical, of a girlfriend who did him wrong in every way imaginable, of a string of relatives who never made him feel welcome. Of having no friends. Even the dog seemed to have something against him.
But none of that had anything to do with why he did what he did, he assured investigators. Even killing his father. "It wasn't anything personal," he said.
It was the aliens.
"They wanted me to kill a bunch of people. It was very strange but I tried my best to accommodate them ...
"I heard these voices telling me I had to go do it. I had this obligation, so to speak."
"They were getting me all mixed up. I didn't know what was black, white, up, down, inside out. I didn't know. I mean, I'd still wake up in the morning like anybody else, drink a cup coffee, smoke a cigarette. I'd say, 'What the hell?' This, that, this, that. And then this alien thing comes in, 'Hey, you gotta do your job. You gotta do it.' "
"I'm some kind of subspecies," he said. "I had to prove myself to them. ... And they hate humans. They use them for food. I don't understand at all."
Was he sorry he killed his father?
"No, I'm not sorry," he said. " I wish I'd used a different tool. I really do."
It wouldn't have been so messy, and it wouldn't have been such hard work. Even the aliens were displeased about that, he said.
Taking out some police officers was part of Rogers' plan. But when the opportunity presented itself as they closed in around him in Anchorage, his gun jammed, going click, click, click instead of blam, blam, blam.
He tossed the gun onto the floorboards and it was all over.
"And here we are today," he said, as jurors watched the grainy, black-and-white videotape in the darkened courtroom.
The trial continues Monday.
Find Debra McKinney online at adn.com/contact/dmckinney or call 257-4465.
By DEBRA McKINNEY