An El Paso County jury has begun deliberating the fate of a homeless man accused of soliciting the hatchet-slaying of a reputed police tipster.
Roger Julius Glover, 36, is charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 16, 2011, death of William Mickle, a fellow homeless man found hacked to death in a ravine south of downtown Colorado Springs.
Mickle, 20, died of more than 20 chop wounds to the head, face and neck — the result of a brutal attack with a hatchet or machete.
Drag marks and blood evidence show Mickle’s body was dragged into the ravine near the Sienna Place Apartments on Lenmar Drive and covered in freshly cut branches, though they barely concealed his mangled body.
Although Glover isn’t accused of delivering the fatal blows, prosecutors say he wielded threats and relied on his reputation as an “original gangster” from New York in recruiting an associate from Colorado Springs’ downtown Acacia Park homeless community to carry out his “green light” on Mickle.
Witnesses said Mickle was suspected of “snitching” to Colorado Springs police, but the death may also have involved a debt, prosecutors say.
Glover arrived in Colorado Springs in the summer of 2011 boasting of his ties to a violent street gang, and witnesses say he was quickly embraced as a “leader” and “a higher person” on the streets.
A co-defendant, Jordan Rowland, is awaiting a March trial on charges of first-degree murder, accused of accepting the job and carrying it out in nightmarish fashion — going so far to chop a finger from the victim’s hand as “proof.”
Glover’s weeklong trial unfolded against the backdrop of a citywide debate about safety concerns downtown and offered a glimpse into what prosecutors call the “invisible world” of the homeless, where a murder plot took shape in soup kitchens, public parks and boarded-up motels frequented by transients.
During closing arguments on Wednesday, defense attorney Cynthia McKedy dismissed charges against Glover as the product of fabrications and a flawed police investigation that overlooked other suspects.
Among them, McKedy said, was a prosecution witness with a Colorado Springs police gang file for his involvement in the Insane Clown Posse and a tattoo of that gang’s avatar: A hatchet-wielding cartoon figure.
McKedy hammered on inconsistencies in the testimony of homeless witnesses, some of whom admitted to using drugs before police interviews, and she highlighted ulterior motives for those blaming Glover.
A teen runaway who supplied key testimony was engaged to be married to Rowland and told friends she would do anything to protect him, McKedy said, before detailing how the now-18-year-old’s changing accounts of Glover’s “green light” order served to benefit Rowland by providing him with an alibi.
After Glover’s arrest, the man with the hatchet tattoo contacted a police detective and offered to give up “the real story,” McKedy said — but only in exchange for new I-Phones for himself and his friends and the promise of witness protection.
“When a person’s liberty is at stake, it has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” McKedy said, adding: “Would you trust any of these cast of characters with a matter of importance?”
Prosecutors Jennifer Viehman and Beth Reed countered that Glover pursued easy targets — homeless youths whose lives had gone tragically adrift amid mental illness, neglect and drug abuse.
“He preyed upon those kids,” said Viehman, who paced about the courtroom, pointing in Glover’s face and staring him down. “He preyed upon their vulnerabilities. They needed a place to belong, and he preyed on that.”
Viehman scoffed at claims that Mickle’s killer is at large, noting that his severed finger was found in Rowland’s pocket at the time of his arrest. She said witness testimony likewise proves that Glover ordered the hit.
A jury began deliberating about 11 a.m. Wednesday and adjourned for the day at 4:45 p.m. Deliberations will resume Thursday morning.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Glover faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Contact Lance Benzel: 636-0366 Twitter @lancebenzel
Facebook Gazette Lance Benzel