After three days of deliberation, a Homer jury on Thursday afternoon found Demarqus Green, 23, of Anchorage, guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Demian Sagerser, then 40.
Green had claimed self defense in the July 7, 2012, shooting of Sagerser at Sagerser’s Stariski Creek home. Green said Sagerser attacked him with a utility knife when Green attempted to buy marijuana.
The jury found Green not guilty of first-degree murder and on a lesser charge of first-degree robbery. It found him guilty of evidence tampering for destroying a red jacket and other evidence related to the murder.
As Judge Anna Moran read the verdict, Green sat passively next to his attorney, Adam Franklin, and showed no apparent emotion to either the not-guilty or guilty verdicts.
Sagerser’s mother, Marjorie Bantz, did not attend the hearing. Kenai Peninsula District Attorney Scot Leaders said he did attempt to contact Bantz. During final arguments on Tuesday, Bantz sobbed and held her face in her hands as Leaders described her son’s death.
Green admitted that he went to Sagerser’s cabin near Mile 149 Sterling Highway to buy marijuana. While there, Green said he shot Sagerser. An autopsy showed Sagerser had been shot in the back and the left side. Alaska Bureau of Investigation detectives found 9 mm bullets in the cabin, and forensic analysis showed the bullets matched a 9 mm Smith and Wesson semiautomatic pistol seized from Green when he was arrested in late August 2012.
At dispute was if Green shot Sagerser in self defense, if Green stole marijuana and money, and if Green and his girlfriend, Nancie Modeste, 29, destroyed evidence. Modeste had already pleaded guilty to destroying clothing Green wore, such as a red jacket. A game camera set up by Sagerser outside his A-frame cabin captured images of Green in a red jacket walking into and out of the cabin about 7 p.m. July 7, 2012.
To discount the self-defense claim, jurors only had to disprove one of a list of factors, such as that Green had been involved in a robbery, that he did not believe the extent of force used was needed to prevent harm to himself and that he had a duty to retreat. The state also asserted that Green had engaged in a felony drug transaction or purported drug transaction. Under Alaska law, a defendant cannot use self defense if involved in a felony drug transaction. Franklin asserted that Green bought a half-ounce of marijuana, less than a felony amount.
In her instructions to the jury, Moran had said to find Green guilty on second-degree murder, it had to show one of three things:
• He intended to cause serious physical injury which resulted in death,
• He knew his conduct was certain to cause death or serious injury, and
• He committed a robbery and during the robbery or pursuit he caused a death.
Leaders said that because the jury found Green not guilty on the robbery charges, that was the only factor that could be known was not disproved in a self-defense claim or proven in a second-degree murder claim.
To find Green guilty of first-degree murder, the jury had to find that Green intended to kill Sagerser. By finding him not guilty of first-degree murder, the jury concluded Green did not intend to kill Sagerser.
After the jury foreperson delivered the verdict to Moran and she read it, Leaders asked her to poll each juror to see if they agreed with the verdict. One by one the jury of seven women and five men all said they agreed with the verdict.
Moran set a sentencing hearing at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Homer Courthouse. Under Alaska law, any bail set was reduced to no bail.
Three Homer Police officers and Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Jeremy Stone, head of the Anchor Point Post that initially responded to Sagerser’s killing, guarded the courtroom door as the verdict was read. Green was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.