Finding a need for community condemnation and to isolate him from society, Kenai Superior Court Judge Anna Moran on Monday sentenced Demarqus Green to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder.
Last May, a Homer jury found Green, 23, of Anchorage, guilty in the shooting death of Demian Sagerser, then 40, on July 7, 2012. The jury also convicted him of tampering with physical evidence.
Moran also suspended 15 years of Green’s sentence, giving him 25 years of actual prison time. With time off with good behavior, Green could serve as little as 17 years.
“This is a difficult case. Many lives were changed,” Moran said.
Sagerser’s parents lost their only son, Moran noted. Green’s daughter won’t know her father until she is much older.
Sagerser’s mother, Marjorie Bantz, and Green’s father, Freddy Green, both attended
the hearing. Neither made a statement.
Green had claimed self-defense. Green met Sagerser at a WalMart in Kenai while Green and friends came down to Soldotna to go fishing. Green arranged to go buy marijuana at Sagerser’s Stariski Creek cabin north of Anchor Point. Green drove to the cabin with his girlfriend, Nancie Modeste, 29.
At his trial, Green said when he went to buy marijuana from Sagerser at the cabin, Sagerser pulled a 1-inch utility knife on him. Green shot Sagerser twice, once in the back and once in the left-hand side. To discount the self-defense claim, the jury had to disprove several factors, such as that Green had a duty to retreat or that the force used wasn’t needed to protect himself.
Kenai District Attorney Scot Leaders asserted that Green was involved in a felony drug transaction and that Green robbed Sagerser of pot and cash. Under Alaska law, a defendant cannot claim self defense if involved in a felony drug deal. Green claimed he had only intended to buy a half-ounce of marijuana, less than a felony amount. Moran said the evidence was clear that Green did intend to buy a felony amount of marijuana. When the jury made its verdict, it did not state on what grounds it rejected the claim of self-defense.
The jury rejected the state’s theory that Green intended to kill Sagerser, and found him not guilty of first-degree murder. It also found him not guilty of robbery. The jury agreed on the lesser charge of second-degree murder, that Green either intended to cause serious injury which resulted in death or knew his conduct would cause death or serious injury.
“This is a drug deal gone wrong. What kind of drug deal? It’s unclear,” Moran said in her sentencing remarks. “No one really knows what happened that fateful afternoon except Mr. Sagerser and Mr. Green who sits before me.”
At the sentencing, Green apologized to Sagerser’s family.
“I’m really sorry for everything they’re going through. My family is going through a lot,” he said. “It’s kind of easy to see everyone as evil and a bad guy.”
Green admitted that he initially lied to investigators, but said everything he said in court was true. He also said he didn’t steal money and pot from Sagerser.
“I didn’t have the intent to rob anyone,” Green said.
He said what happened in Sagerser’s cabin was “it escalated not on the price of drugs, but on me bringing a phone into his residence.”
In his remarks at the sentencing, Leaders asked for a harsher sentence above the presumptive range of 20 to 30 years, arguing for 55 years with 15 suspended. Even though the jury convicted Green of nonintentional murder, Leaders argued that the second-degree murder conviction was more close to intentional homicide.
“This really was an intentional homicide. It really was. It didn’t have to be premeditated,” Leaders said.
Green’s attorney, Adam Franklin, challenged on constitutional grounds the prosecution’s claim of intentional homicide.
“They’re (the state) asking the court to ignore what the jurors we spent a week picking, what they decided,” Franklin said. “We are asking the court to sentence him (Green) for the offense he was convicted of.”
Franklin also scoffed at Leaders’ claim that an aggravator should apply for Green using a dangerous instrument.
“It really does require some serious imagination to think of a case that does not involve a dangerous instrument,” Franklin said.
Moran denied that aggravator.
Franklin asked Moran to sentence Green to 15 years in prison. He noted that this was a first offense for Green. Green was 20 when he killed Sagerser, an age when the adolescent brain is not fully developed, Franklin said.
“Mr. Green was not your typical offender and this was not your typical offense,” Franklin said.
In making her sentence, Moran said she was conflicted by the case.
“So who is Demarqus Green? A young man who acted too quickly to pull a gun in a drug transaction or a man who committed a cold-blooded murder? I don’t know,” she said.
Moran said she wanted to believe Green had a chance at rehabilitation, but she kept coming back to the facts of the case — that instead of calling 911 after the shooting, Green drove away and didn’t show any remorse or emotion.
She also noted that while in custody Green had been written up for 10 infractions, been in five fights and was caught trying to roll up a magazine to use as a weapon.
In her sentence, Moran also imposed other conditions, including that Green be on probation for 10 years after his release, that he submit to DNA testing, that he notify the court of any vehicles he purchases, and that he not have concealed weapons or live in a home with concealed weapons. Green also was ordered to pay restitution at an amount to be decided.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.