Roger Allen Malcolm, the man at the center of a 3rd District Court murder trial, took the stand Wednesday and testified that he did not intend to kill security guard Verne Jenkins but only wanted to fire a warning shot so Jenkins would stop roughing him up.
Malcolm often gave long and rambling answers to questions, and sometimes contradicted himself or seemed confused. But he was emphatic about what his intentions were on Dec. 26, 2007: He said he wanted to get the 31-year-old security guard off him after, he claimed, the man jumped him and knocked him violently to the ground.
Jenkins was unarmed, but at the time, Malcolm said he thought Jenkins had a gun in his belt and was reaching for it.
"I meant to fire my gun," Malcolm said in answer to questions posed by prosecutor Alicia Cook.
"At him?" Cook asked.
"No," Malcolm said. "Straight up, just to let him know it was loaded."
Malcolm referred to Jenkins' death as a "tragedy" that he never wanted to occur, but he also admitted that he did not do anything to help Jenkins as he lay on the floor after being shot in the neck.
Malcolm also said he could not remember swearing at police and sometimes struggling with them, but acknowledged that if they said so, then that must have occurred.
However, he appeared unhappy with the way police treated him, saying he had never been "tortured" with handcuffs before.
"It was just too much for me to be civil," he said.
"A man is lying in a pool of blood and it's 'Just too much for you to be civil?'" Cook asked in a tone that sounded shocked.
Malcolm, 51, is charged with first-degree felony murder in connection with Jenkins' shooting at the truck stop located at 1953 W. California Ave. Prosecutors say Jenkins was simply doing his job trying to get an unruly customer away from cashiers and off the property.
Defense attorneys say Jenkins was unnecessarily rough with Malcolm, who feared for his life and shot Jenkins in self-defense.
Defendants seldom take the witness stand in murder cases, but Malcolm answered questions at great length and sometimes went off on tangents about such things as the gun's safety device.
At one point, 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan cautioned Malcolm to give simpler and more direct responses.
Malcolm testified that Jenkins jumped him while Malcolm was trying to get his bike and leave the truck stop because cashiers made it clear they would not wait on him and he had only a short time to get to his job as a mechanic. Malcolm said he did not hear Jenkins order him out of the store. During a fight with Jenkins captured on videotape, Malcolm pulled his 9 mm semi-automatic pistol from a holster under his clothes and fired.
After Jenkins was shot, Malcolm can be seen on the videotape sitting down on a nearby restaurant chair waiting for police to arrive while employees and customers either flee or run to help Jenkins.
Malcolm said he got the gun years ago for self-defense purposes because of threatening behavior by some of his neighbors. He said he went through training for a concealed weapons permit, but never got the permit.
Vernell Jenkins, father of the slain man, testified that his son was a peaceful individual. "They call Verne 'Mr. P.R.' (public relations) because he would rather negotiate than get into a confrontation," Jenkins said.The nine-member jury will hear closing arguments Thursday and then begin deliberations.
Contributing: Lynn Wilde