Buckner claimed he blacked out just before the shooting and did not realize what happened
until he regained consciousness and saw a gun in his hand and blood on the walls.
Psychiatrist Dr. John O'Brien testified Monday that blackouts like the one Buckner described are "extremely rare" and that his claims were "another self-serving avoidance of providing information."
Of thousands of evaluations of criminal defendants, O'Brien said he had only encountered one defendant who truly had no recollection of committing a crime: a PCP user who woke up covered in blood after an apparent murder.
O'Brien said Buckner's drug use may have created the symptoms of highs, lows and impulsiveness that other psychiatrists attributed to bipolar disorder. Buckner has not shown bipolar signs since his arrest
, O'Brien said.
Drug abuse has been a "recurring, longer-standing pattern" in Buckner's life, O'Brien said. Buckner admitted during a psychiatric evaluation to use of marijuana and Ecstasy in the "distant past," but left out his abuse of drugs around the time of the killing.
Buckner abused cocaine and was admitted to an emergency room for drug detoxification a month before killing, O'Brien said.
"We didn't buy the blackout defense for one minute," Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino said. "That was the only option he had, because of the investigation, the scientific evidence and some of the other circumstantial evidence we had, he was left with little option other than to say he couldn't remember or he blacked out."
Buckner's attorney William Ruzzo conceded Buckner killed Rogers-Buckner
, but during a closing argument said the crime was "impulsive" and "stupid" and deserved a less severe punishment than life in prison
"What in the world would possess a man to deliberate and premeditate the death of a person he loved dearly, a death that would separate him from the other loves of his life," Ruzzo said, referring to Rogers-Buckner and their three children.
Buckner had threatened his wife months before shooting, saying, "I'm going to blow your brains out" and "I'm going to blow your head off,"
Buckner renewed his threats in a telephone conversation with an acquaintance three days before Rogers-Buckner's death
- the day after Rogers-Buckner filed a protection from abuse petition, Ferentino said.
The petition described a pattern of abuse, including allegations Buckner fired a gun at Rogers-Buckner months before her death and threatened to kill her and asked her if she wanted to play Russian roulette in the days before the killing.
The protection order incited more rage in Buckner, Ferentino said.
"Squeeze an orange, you get orange juice," Ferentino said. "Squeeze Donnell Buckner, you get intention to commit murder."
Buckner shot Rogers-Buckner at least three times - once in the arm as she attempted to block his shots and twice, from close range, in the head.
After firing the first shot Buckner moved in closer, Ferentino said.
"He made it personal," Ferentino said. "He shot her not once, twice. He put two bullets in her head and he splattered her brains all over the house. Just like he said he was going to do."
Buckner, feeling emasculated by his wife's success and demoralized by his failures, killed
her with her kids nearby in a deranged show of power, Ferentino said.