06/20/2005

Alabama man convicted in slayings of three police officers

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- A jury on Sunday convicted a man in the shooting deaths of three police officers who were killed last year while trying to arrest the man's roommate.

Kerry Spencer, 25, also was convicted of attempted murder for attacking a fourth officer who was wounded but survived.

The three officers were killed while trying to serve a misdemeanor warrant on Spencer's roommate, Nathaniel Woods, at a reputed drug house on June 17, 2004.

Woods, who is also charged in the slayings, is scheduled to be tried Aug. 22.

Defense attorney Mike Blalock said Spencer fired in self-defense when confronted by officers Carlos Owen, Charles Robert Bennett and Harley Chisholm III.

"I didn't mean to kill nobody, man," Spencer testified Saturday. "This was a decision I had to make to stay alive or be shot. I did what I had to do."

Jurors watched a 36-minute videotaped confession taken by police about seven hours after the shooting. In the video, Spencer told detectives "I shot every (expletive) body who was pointing a gun at me."

On Saturday, prosecutor Mara Sirles asked Spencer how the officers were a threat to him since two of them were wounded in the back. Spencer said it all happened quickly.

"I never stopped shooting until they fell," he said.

The sequestered jury was set to begin deliberations Monday on Spencer's sentence. They could recommend the death penalty or life in prison without parole. A judge is not bound by that recommendation and will sentence Spencer later.

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