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. At his trial, he said when he went to buy marijuana from Sagerser at Sagerser’s Stariski Creek cabin north of Anchor Point, 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, 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.
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.
“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 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.”
Leaders had asked for a harsher sentence above the presumptive range of 20 to 30 years, arguing for 55 years with 15 suspended. Green’s attorney, Adam Franklin, asked for 15 years of active time.
“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.