Witness: Memory of shooting vague
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A key witness in the manslaughter trial of Jessie Brooks of Carbondale testified Tuesday that he was drunk on the night of the deadly shooting and couldn’t remember details.
Prosecutor Gretchen Larson contended that this testimony from Nathan Paullin, 24, of Aspen differed dramatically from a statement he made to police on the night of the shooting.
“I saw the gun when I was on the phone with 911,” Paullin testified Tuesday.
Brooks stands accused of accidentally shooting his friend, 23-year-old Bobby Rogers, in the forehead during the night of April 2, 2003, at 1360 Barber Drive in Carbondale.
He is on trial this week in 9th District Court for a charge of reckless manslaughter, a class 4 felony. If convicted, he could serve two to six years in prison and face a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.
There is no dispute that Brooks and Rogers were friends, and there was no animosity between them on that night.
Prosecutors contend, however, that Brooks “recklessly caused his death because he never checked his gun or cleared it,” Larson said on Tuesday.
Brooks’ defense attorney Arnold Mordkin of Snowmass Village, however, contends that the gun was cocked by Rogers himself, and that Rogers was holding the gun as he and Brooks were playfully wrestling around.
“Mr. Rogers approached Mr. Brooks, got him in a headlock with his right hand, and in his right hand was a pistol and he put it in his right cheek,” Mordkin said. “In a defensive move, Brooks put his left hand over Mr. Rogers’ head and with his right hand, he grabbed the hand with the gun, pushed it away and pulled himself back, then brought Mr. Rogers’ head in contact with the muzzle of the gun.”
That, Mordkin says, is when the gun went off, sending a .22-caliber bullet into Rogers’ head.
“I really laid it all out, which I usually don’t do,” Mordkin said of the opening statements he made on Monday, after a jury was selected.
Putting together a time line
Time after time during her direct examination Tuesday, prosecutor Larson asked Paullin if he ever saw the small-caliber handgun in Brooks’ hand. Each time, he said he couldn’t recall.
That testimony, Larson pointed out, did not jibe with the taped interview Paullin gave to Carbondale police on April 2.
“You sure do seem to be telling a different version today than you told police,” Mordkin said. “Why did you tell police all these things?”
Paullin answered that he “was trying to put a time line together like the police asked.”
Paullin said he had trouble because he was drunk that night and didn’t remember everything.
But since the incident, he said he’s been better able to put together that time line.
“I had a lot of time to think about what was blurred into one another,” he said.
Paullin then testified that after the shooting, “I saw Jessie backing away, saying ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!'”
That, he testified Tuesday, was the first time he saw the gun out of its case, lying on the kitchen counter.
Larson then asked Paullin why he didn’t try to help his friend, despite the fact that he’s trained in CPR.
“The moment was really serene,” he said, explaining that he felt as if it really wasn’t happening.
“I don’t know why I didn’t go to help him. It was almost like I knew he was gone the moment it happened.”
Trial to run for a week
Larson also pointed out that Paullin refused to do a follow-up interview with police in the months after the shooting.
Paullin said he refused the second interview because he was upset with the way police handled his statements, and that “everything they released to the press was completely wrong.”
During the first half of Tuesday’s trial proceedings, witnesses from the Carbondale Police Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation testified.
During the afternoon, Brooks’ fiancee, Leia Dugschwardt, also testified about what she saw that night at the scene. She did not witness the shooting because she was on her way down the stairs.
A video of the crime scene that showed the entire inside of 1360 Barber Drive was also shown for about a half hour.
Brooks looked away and covered his eyes during the many parts of the video, which showed Rogers’ lifeless body lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor.
A forensic pathologist and a firearms expert are expected to testify today during the third day of the trial, prosecutors said. The trial is scheduled to run through Wednesday, Jan. 14.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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