William Dickerson called leader at trial

Armon "Bubba" Dickerson

The others charged in connection with Gerard Roper's torture and slaying took the witness stand Wednesday and testified about how defendant William O. Dickerson was the ringleader of the crime.

Dickerson's half-brother, Armon "Bubba" Dickerson, said he was scared as he, his brother and one other beat up Roper over an 18-hour period in March 2006, but he didn't realize how serious the crime was becoming until Roper was put in the closet of the Fleming Road apartment.

"I'm just really confused right now, really scared," Armon Dickerson testified. "I know I will have to live with this all because of a bad choice I made."

On cross-examination, defense attorney Andrew Carroll told him, "You get to live with it. Your brother doesn't. Your brother is on trial for his life."

Carroll, who has argued that William Dickerson is being made a scapegoat, also questioned Armon extensively on why he told police a different story right after the crime than he told early last year, when he returned to Charleston from Florida. That 2008 confession landed him in jail on charges of obstruction of justice and murder.

"I didn't kill him," Armon Dickerson testified Wednesday. "I took part in it, but I didn't kill him."

Armon Dickerson's wife, Selena Rouse, showed more emotion as she testified that she entered and left the apartment a few times before finally seeing Roper and being asked by William Dickerson if he should let Roper live.

"He had asked me if he should let him live or die. I said he knows who you are and he knows where you brought him," she testified, adding that she was scared and trying to protect her then boyfriend, Armon.

Rouse faces charges of obstructing justice and being an accessory after the fact of a felony, and Rashid "Popcorn" Malik also has been charged with murder in the case.

Their testimony marked the fifth day of Dickerson's trial — Charleston County's first death penalty case since 2002. Circuit Judge R. Markley Dennis is presiding.

The prosecution is expected to wind up its case by today, and the jury then will learn whether William Dickerson will take the stand. If the jury finds him guilty of murder, they then will decide if he should be put to death.