3.08.2009

Neighbor testifies at murder trial

☛ TS Neighbor testifies at murder trial 3/3/09
Sean Garmire/The Times-Standard
Posted: 03/03/2009 01:16:45 AM PST

A former neighbor of Rodney Groh spoke at the 55-year-old man's murder trial Monday, testifying that on the night of the apparent murder, Groh called him and allegedly admitted he may have killed his roommate.
Monday began the third week of trial for Groh, a Eureka man accused of killing his longtime friend and roommate, 61-year-old George Giguere, inside room 117 at the Budget Motel.
Joseph Green, who lived next door to Groh and Giguere, testified that on the afternoon of May 22 he heard the sound of a loud argument through the walls. Green said he heard banging noises and he recognized Groh's voice repeatedly yelling “shut up.”
The fight was nothing unusual, Green said. During the time Green lived next door to Groh, he said, he would often hear the man yelling at his roommate or neighbors, and he wasn't sure who Groh was yelling at on that occasion.
The sound quieted down, and some time later, Groh walked into Green's room and sat on his bed. It was a strange occurrence, Green said -- Groh had never been inside his apartment before, and he appeared to be intoxicated.
”He just walked into my room without knocking, acting really bizarre,” Green said. “He was drunk and being aggressive.”
After he was asked, Groh agreed to leave Green's apartment.
It was an uncomfortable incident for Green and he said he rode his bike to a nearby theater to watch a movie and wait for Groh to calm down. When Green
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returned to his apartment later that evening, he testified, he had only just shut his door when his phone rang. It was Groh.
Green said Groh asked him to come over to check on Giguere, who was not “waking up this time.” Green declined, and Groh allegedly replied, seemingly to himself, “I think I killed him,” Green testified.
Green told Groh to call an ambulance, and a short time later medical responders arrived to find Giguere dead from a blunt force injury on the motel room floor.
Groh was questioned at the scene by officers who testified in court he allegedly changed his story multiple times during the interview. One of Groh's explanations for Giguere's death was that he and his roommate had been involved in a fight with two other men in the motel parking lot earlier in the evening.
Groh has maintained that he and Giguere were accosted in the parking lot, and has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
Kay Belchner, senior criminologist at the California Department of Justice laboratory in Eureka, also testified Monday, telling jurors Groh was found to have had a blood alcohol level of .4 percent when he was tested after his arrest. That blood alcohol level, Belchner said, is high enough to be life-threatening for an inexperienced drinker, but “very tolerant drinkers who have been that way for some time can function at that level.”
Authorities who investigated the scene found blood spattered on Groh and across the apartment. Belchner tested the blood, and found Groh had both Giguere's and his own blood on his hands and shirt.
Blood was also found on a large metal flashlight found next to Groh's bed. However, the blood could not be typed, Belchner said, and there was no indication whose it was.
Groh was returned to the Humboldt County jail Monday, and will return to court today for trial, which is expected to continue through the week.
Sean Garmire can be reached at 441-0514 or sgarmire@times-standard.com.