The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

September 23, 2009

Defendant doesn't remember shooting

T. J. ROYAL

The man accused of murder in August 2008 took the witness stand Tuesday in Edgecombe County Superior Court.

Bobby Ray Bordeaux Jr., 38, is accused first-degree murder in the shooting death of 44-year-old Clifton Jackson, during an altercation at the Hogs Pen Pub near Macclesfield in the early morning of Aug. 31, 2008.

He is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill causing serious injury, for shooting John Warlick, 50, at the bar that night.

The defendant, his wife and a psychiatrist were among the witnesses Tuesday who described their roles before, during and after the shootings.

Bordeaux said he went to the bar that night to celebrate the birthday of two of his younger brothers, Steve and Alan. Because of his alcohol use that day and night, he told jurors that he could only remember "pieces" of Aug. 30-31.

Bordeaux said he could remember that he drove his brother Alan's dirt bike to the pub, with the last thing he could remember from that night was that he collected change for a game of pool. The next thing he said he remembered was being handcuffed and presented before the magistrate, being read the charges against him.

Edgecombe County Sheriff's Sgt. Gene Harrell told the jury Monday the defendant had been so drunk that he could not even question him that night about the incident.

Bordeaux's wife, Robin, said she learned that her husband was at the bar that night and had come to take him home. While Bordeaux and his brother Eddie followed her out the door, Robin said Eddie exchanged words and "took a swing" at Jackson, who then hit Eddie and knocked him to the ground.

Robin said Jackson was standing "right in front of me," when she got ready to turn to go towards Eddie, who was separated and being held on the ground by the bar's owner.

"I was about to turn, when I heard something pop, and I turned, and it was Bobby" holding a gun, Robin said, with her husband having shot Jackson in the back of the head.

There also was testimony about how Bordeaux's major depressive mental disorder and alcohol abuse contributed to his condition that night and the fatal incident.

As his client cried several times in his testimony, defense attorney David Braswell asked Bordeaux to tell the jury about traumatic events in his life that contributed to his condition, and to the death and injury.

When he was six-years-old, Bordeaux said he saw his father shoot himself in the chest in a suicide attempt. He had also seen his father cut another man in the throat a year before that.

He also attempted to commit suicide twice in his life, the first time when he was 17 years old. Three years ago, Bordeaux said he tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the chest; he was so drunk during that incident, that he ended up shooting himself in the shoulder instead.

A more recent tragedy Bordeaux and his family dealt with was when his younger brother, Steve, committed suicide in January 2008, by hanging himself. Between January and September last year, Bordeaux admitted himself to area hospitals twice seeking rehabilitation for his alcohol abuse but ended both treatments shortly afterwards.

Bordeaux said he first abused alcohol when he was age 13. He had been sober for 10 years, before he started drinking again in 2002.

Robin, who has been married to Bordeaux for 20 years, said there were several incidents when Bordeaux would black out and not remember what had happened, even when he had hurt himself when he fell.

Dr. Moira Artigues, a Cary forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Bordeaux three times this year, said that she did not believe Bordeaux "was able to form a specific intent" to kill Jackson or to injure Warlick, because of his alcohol abuse and major depressive disorder.

She based her opinion on her readings of Bordeaux's medical records from four regional hospitals, where he was given psychiatric evaluations and attempted to be treated for his alcoholism.

Artigues said that Bordeaux's description of his "black out" of the shooting was consistent with prior episodes the defendant described he had with friends and family, after he had been drinking.

For the prosecution, Senior Assistant District Attorney Steve Graham told the jury that Bordeaux could recall certain details from that night but not the shootings themselves. The prosecutor also reminded the jury that Bordeaux chose to carry the .22-caliber pistol inside the bar with him. Bordeaux said he had gotten the pistol from one of his brother Alan's toolboxes, and that he had a concealed handgun permit from 2003-08.

"(But) nobody gave you a pistol at the Hogs Pen Pub, did they? ... No one forced you to kill Cliff Jackson, did they?" Graham asked the defendant, who answered no to both questions.

Graham also pointed out that, despite Bordeaux's lengthy history of alcohol abuse, he had been able to maintain his driver's license. Graham also said that the alcohol abuse did not prevent Bordeaux from keeping a daily routine, which included working as a self-employed mechanic.

Graham also asked Artigues if she considered it a choice on Bordeaux's part, that he consumed alcohol that day.

"I think the first pop-a-top was a choice" on Bordeaux's part, but that his multiple beers that day were the result of his alcoholism, Artigues responded.

When asked by the prosecutor how "convenient" it is to tell a jury he could not remember the shooting incidents, but that he could remember other details of that day, Bordeaux responded that it doesn't make it easier for him that he could not remember his deadly actions that August night last year.

"It would make me feel better to know what happened."

Closing arguments will take place today. Superior Court Judge Cy Grant presides.