Karl "Willy" Winsness - a convicted felon and admitted drug dealer - thought "some sleaze" was trying to break into his home the night of Jan. 22.
So he said he fired four or five rounds from his .357-caliber revolver in self-defense.The suspected "sleaze," however, turned out to be Salt Lake County sheriff's office narcotics officers, who were serving a "no-knock" search warrant on Winsness' home, at 448 N. Ninth West.
One of those rounds struck and nearly killed Deputy Keith Rogers. Police later charged Winsness with attempted first-degree murder.
A jury was expected to begin deliberating Thursday the question of whether Winsness was guilty of trying to kill police officers or if he was exercising his statutory right to defend his habitation.
"I thought I was getting robbed. I thought it was a gangster style . . . you know, kicking on the door and stuff," said Winsness, who took the witness stand Wednesday afternoon to explain to the jury that he was afraid he was going to be robbed.
His fear began when he got a phone call moments earlier from a woman who asked, "Willy, is that you?" The woman never identified herself and hung up when he asked her who she was. This worried him.
Winsness said he got his revolver and placed it beside him in the living room, where he watched TV. When he heard the door being kicked in, he said he grabbed the gun and fired two shots, paused, then fired more.
His defense attorney asked, "What, if anything, did you hear prior to your door being kicked in?"
"I didn't hear nothing," Winsness testified.
"Did you ever hear the word `sheriff?' "
"No, I never did," Winsness answered.
About a half-dozen deputy sheriffs, however, testified Tuesday and Wednesday that they all yelled "sheriff's office" loudly when they began kicking down the front door of Winsness' home.
Winsness said his father built the home and had insulated it well, thus explaining the reason he might not have heard the yelling of the officers.
Following the shooting, Winsness ran downstairs, reloaded his gun and waited for someone to enter his home. When he didn't hear anything, he went upstairs where he heard shouts outside coming from people who said they were police officers.
Winsness said he got a "real sick feeling" when he learned he may have shot a police officer.
But he refused to come out immediately out of fear he would be shot by police. So he called his father, then told officers he would come out after his father arrived.