Jason Rose's confession came in brief blurts of words broken by blocks of silence.
"I lit paper on fire, and thought it was out," Rose told investigators during a videotaped interview.
Minutes passed without Rose saying a word. Investigators pressed on.
"I tried to put it out," he said finally, "with a mat."
The confession to perhaps starting the Boardwalk Apartments fire came only after hours of prodding from investigators in an interrogation room.
Jurors in Rose's murder and arson trial Friday saw one day's worth of taped interviews with police conducted Oct. 10, 2005, three days after fire gutted the apartment building and killed three people. Next week, jurors will watch a second tape of interviews conducted the following day - after Rose had already been arrested in connection with the fire.
But in court Friday, jurors watched Rose talk about the night of the fire. His confession was near the end of an almost five-hour interview. The paper he lit on fire contained a phone number of a man who, days earlier, tried to sell him marijuana, Rose said. The pressure to buy the drug made him upset, he told investigators during the interview.
The doormat he used to try to extinguish the fire after he saw it spreading across the second floor's wooden railing came from in front of a neighbor's door, he said during the interview.
Rose's attorney, Ron Evans, has contended since opening statements Wednesday that Rose confessed only because he was pressured into it - that he would have said whatever was necessary to appease police Sgt. Troy Squire and Christy Weidner, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The tape played for jurors Friday gave some insight into Rose's past.
When the staff at Elm Acres group home in Pittsburg wouldn't let Rose watch the "Power Rangers" television show, Rose decided to take a lighter out of his roommate's top dresser drawer and burn something.
Boardwalk Fire trial witness testimony, day 3
"I took a lighter from a roommate and lit a glove on fire," Rose told Squire during the taped interview. "I kind of got even with the house staff."
The confession came after Rose repeatedly denied he knew anything about the glove fire - a fire police learned about from SRS records.
"I'm telling you the honest truth. I've never done anything like that," Rose said after Squire questioned him about the incident.
Squire pressured Rose more as he denied the glove fire.
"Is that because we're talking about a fire at your apartment?" Squire asked during the taped interview.
"No," Rose said. "I don't remember ever, ever doing that."
"I think you do. I think you do, Jason."
"No," Rose said again.
"I think you do, and you're not telling us because of what we're investigating," Squire said.
Rose eventually admitted he was just curious about fire. Squire asked Rose if his curiosity stemmed from his history of abuse - for example, the scars he had on his arms where his father allegedly burned him with a cigarette lighter.
As the interview went on, Squire and ATF agent Weidner inched closer to Rose, telling him repeatedly that if he wanted to be a good person he should tell the truth - and sometimes stretching the truth about the kind of evidence investigators back at the scene were gathering about the fire.
Boardwalk Fire Trial: Day 3
"I elaborated that there were scientists, and they were testing stuff. I have no direct knowledge of how they reconstruct stuff," Squire told Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan after the tape stopped playing for the day.
During the interview, Rose repeatedly denied having anything to do with the Boardwalk Apartments fire. But at the end of the interview, after saying he had lit the paper on fire on the second-floor walkway, Rose asked Squire what would happen if fire investigators found a different cause for the blaze.
After the hourslong interview session, Rose fell asleep at the small white table in the interrogation room, Squire said. By about midnight that night, Oct. 10, 2005, Squire arrested Rose.
"It was just weirdly calm," Squire said of the arrest. "He just said: 'OK.'"
Key moments in the Boardwalk Fire timeline:
- Oct.7, 2005: Fire destroys apartment building
- Oct. 7,2005: 6News video: Interim Fire Chief Mark Bradford talks withreporters at a mid-morning Friday news conference.
- Oct.11, 2005: Family, friends identify three victims
- Oct.12, 2005: Arrest made in deadly fire
- Nov.15,2005: Law firm: Fire alarms didn't work during blaze
- Feb.23, 2006: Birthday cards may have sparked blaze
- Feb.24, 2006: Agent: Design helped fire's spread
- Moreabout Jason Allen Rose