Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Defense to make its case this week in trial

February 12, 2007


Victims have told of broken bones and burned skin.

Police have told tales of rescue - dragging bleeding, broken victims onto an extension ladder to get them away from encroaching flames.

The county coroner has told grisly stories of burned, hollowed-out bodies of victims - burned so badly that in one case there was no liquid blood left to test.

And defendant Jason Rose, accused of starting the fire that killed three people and gutted the 76-unit complex at Boardwalk Apartments on Oct. 7, 2005, told police investigators that he lit a fire there the night the apartment went up in flames.

But that's just the beginning.

As the Rose trial enters its second week of testimony and evidence today, jurors are preparing to hear much more about where and how the fire started - and why Rose's defense attorney says he didn't spark it.

Rose, who lived at the complex at the time, admitted during a taped police interview that he lit a piece of paper on fire on the second floor walkway of the complex that night. He also admitted having a history with fire, including setting a glove on fire inside a trash can full of towels at a boys home in Pittsburg and starting at least six fires - most legally - since moving to Lawrence more than four years ago.

But there is a whole second interview for jurors to view - an interview that likely will add layers to the story, including information about an alleged box of letters investigators said Rose may have set on fire as well.

Second week begins in Boardwalk Fire Trial

Testimony resumes tomorrow morning in Douglas County District Court in the case of Jason Rose, who faces several charges in connection with the October 2005 fire. Enlarge video

After that, defense attorney Ron Evans will then begin laying out Rose's rebuttal to the evidence so far.

The defense's case will include at least one expert witness, Kansas University child psychologist Yolanda Jackson, who is expected to testify that Rose's history of abuse as a child led him to say whatever he thought police investigators wanted him to say during an hours-long interview just three days after the fire.

Evans told the jury during his opening statements that Rose had the emotional capacity of a "7-year-old," and that Rose told police Sgt. Troy Squire what he thought Squire needed to hear to end the interview.

"But they kept after him and after him," Evans said of the police interview. "So he does what a 7-year-old boy does. He gave them what they want to shut them up, so they'd leave him alone."

Jackson will help explain how early childhood trauma could cause someone in Rose's position to say what he thought would appease the police - people Rose viewed as authority figures.

The district attorney's office is then expected to contest Evans' defense by countering with another expert witness: a doctor hinted at in previous hearings but whose identity was never revealed in open court.

Then there's Rose, who's slated to take the stand toward the end of the trial, likely late this week.

Once there, Rose will tell his story - one of childhood abuse where his father allegedly cut him with knives and burned him with lighters, one of a young man bounced from foster home to foster home, one of a grown man confessing to police during a videotaped interview.

Exactly what Rose will say is anyone's guess.


Kali Kaufman 11 years, 4 months ago

"Police have told tales of rescue - dragging bleeding, broken victims onto an extension ladder to get them away from encroaching flames."

Speaks volumes for our policemen to have to double as firemen as well.

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