☛ TS Groh murder trial continues 3/4/09
Sean Garmire/The Times-Standard
Posted: 03/04/2009 01:16:54 AM PST
A former neighbor of Rodney Groh appeared in court Tuesday for the 55-year-old man's murder trial, testifying he heard the sound of fighting coming from Groh's bedroom at the Budget Motel shortly before Groh's roommate was found dead.
Groh, who lived with 61-year-old George Giguere in room 117 at Eureka's Budget Motel, stands accused of killing his roommate on May 22, 2008.
On Tuesday, John Albertson, who lived above Giguere and Groh, testified that on the afternoon of the apparent murder he walked past the men's room and heard yelling coming from inside.
”I heard George yelling, 'I can't take it anymore, knock it off,'” Albertson said.
Giguere's remark was followed by the sound of someone being hit -- Albertson said he heard punching and the sound of a painful groan.
Albertson said he now regrets not notifying authorities, but at the time, the fighting did not seem out of the ordinary. According to Albertson, Groh often fought with Giguere publicly, and only weeks before his death, Giguere was released from the hospital after suffering a serious beating.
Around a half-hour later, Albertson returned to his room. He had not been there long before he heard Groh knocking on doors down the hallway outside his room.
”I heard Rodney's voice saying, 'Hey, how you doing?'... He was just making up conversation,” Albertson said. “That sounded totally unlike him. He doesn't talk to people like that.”
Groh knocked on Albertson's door, but he didn't answer, and Groh walked back downstairs, Albertson said.
Later that evening, Albertson again left his room to buy groceries. When he returned, he said he saw emergency response vehicles parked outside Groh's room.
According to information from the Humboldt County Coroner's Office, Giguere died of blunt force trauma to the head. Police investigators who testified at Groh's trial said Groh offered varying explanations as to how Giguere sustained his injuries. One explanation was that he and Giguere had been involved in a fight with two other men in the motel parking lot.
Toxicology reports later showed both Giguere and Groh were highly intoxicated at the time the alleged murder took place.
Groh was returned to the Humboldt County jail after trial, which is expected to continue through the week.
Sean Garmire can be reached at 441-0514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.