Victor Rodgers sat in a now-familiar seat Monday, watching jurors leave a courtroom to determine whether he fired the shots that killed Kerry Ray Burns on the doorstep of an Arden Arcade area home three years ago last month.
Jury deliberations began Monday afternoon in Sacramento Superior Court after nearly a month of testimony in Rodgers’ second murder trial before Judge Robert Twiss, months after a jury in January failed to reach a verdict in the killing.
Prosecutors allege Rodgers believed Burns cheated him of cash in a failed bank fraud scheme the two ran with another man and gunned down the 27-year-old Burns on May 22, 2012, as he returned to his mother’s Wyda Way home.
During trial, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Asker played interviews Las Vegas detectives had with Rodgers after he was arrested there, as well as his interviews with Sacramento authorities.
In the Sacramento footage, a sobbing Rodgers apologizes to detectives for the shooting and asks for his mother, tearfully saying at one point, “I don’t know what I was thinking. Life changes so fast.”
Earlier in the trial, Asker cited text and phone messages between Rodgers and Burns over money and the bank investigation into their scheme to support prosecutors’ theory of a deadly ambush on Wyda Way.
And Asker reminded jurors Monday of the interrogation room recordings: “The defendant himself said he was the shooter.”
Defense attorney Michael Long argued that no scientific evidence, witness accounts or telephone records point to Rodgers as the shooter. There were lies and threats from detectives, Long said, the better to shape testimony from Rodgers’ friends and younger brother Malik, who also had been implicated in the killing and who testified at trial in exchange for an accessory plea.
Lies, too, from Victor Rodgers, who had hoped to protect his brother from a murder charge, Long said. Victor Rodgers was not at the Wyda Way home where Burns was shot, but had concocted a phony story of self-defense to keep his brother out of prison, Long asserted.
But Asker, in his rebuttal, said Rodgers’ self-defense story was not an act.
“He’s a human being who threw his life away,” Asker said. “This decision was the worst he ever took.”