Taking the stand again in his own defense Tuesday, accused murderer Leslie Roy Simpkins repeated his now-familiar account of the events surrounding the murder of Dana Ann Bailey Aug. 8, 1998, on board the motorboat Foxy Lady.
Simpkins' second aggravated murder trial continues in Clatsop County Circuit Court with the defense's case expected to wrap up as early as today.
Simpkins could receive life in prison without parole if convicted of aiding and abetting his co-defendant, Anthony Scott Garner, in the murder. Garner was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder and arson in October and given a life sentence for stabbing Bailey to death and setting fire to the boat, with Bailey's body on board, in an effort to cover up the crime.
The proceedings have featured most of the same witnesses and evidence presented in Simpkins' first trial, which ended in a hung jury in December.
It included Simpkins' account of how on the day of the murder, the down-and-out mushroom picker, kicked out of the apartment he was staying in, found his way to the run-down boat at the Warrenton mooring basin that served as Garner's home, where he knew he could get some free alcohol and spend a few hours.
Under questioning from defense attorney Peter Fahy, Simpkins related how he sat in the cabin of the boat with Garner and Bailey, sipping from a bottle of tequila, when he heard Bailey say "Scott, you did me," and turned to see Garner using his fist to drive Simpkins' knife into her temple.
Simpkins claims the shock of the incident - and fear that Garner might turn on him next - kept him on the Foxy Lady for an hour or more after the killing. Only when he convinced Garner to leave the boat with him did he then run from the scene, jump on his bicycle and ride straight to the nearby tavern, The Club, where he told a bartender that he had witnessed the killing, he said.
Simpkins acknowledged that he was involved in several fights, including an assault on a jail guard during a failed escape attempt that earned him six years in prison in Colorado, but said he's never assaulted a woman. He would have tried to prevent Bailey's murder, he said, which came completely without warning.
"I would have at least tried to get in a position to allow Dana to get away," he said.
Fahy asked his client why he told the bartender about the crime instead of contacting the police himself.
"It's hard for someone like me, who was raised on the streets, and in street law," he said. "I did not want to be seen going to the police. In my opinion, it was better to be seen being taken away by the police than going to the police."
On cross-examination, District Attorney Josh Marquis asked Simpkins why it was his knife that was used to stab Bailey, why he didn't flee the boat immediately after the attack, why he tried to wash blood off the knife at The Club's restroom and why he asked an acquaintance at the tavern for money in order to leave town.
With an outline of the boat's cramped cabin laid out in tape on the floor of the courtroom, Marquis had Simpkins describe the location of he, Garner and Bailey before, during and after the murder.
Simpkins said he handed his knife to Garner to cut up some cocaine that he then injected into himself and Bailey. It was that knife, he said, that Garner drove into Bailey's head, ramming it in with such force that the tip was broken off.
Marquis suggested that Garner gave ample warning he intended to do harm to Bailey when he complained that the woman was informing police about his drug activity and told Simpkins "she's got to go" and that he would "OD her," or give her a drug overdose, when Simpkins first came on board that afternoon. Simpkins replied that he believed Garner only intended to kick her off the boat, and that his threat to "OD" her was just another of the many empty threats Garner was known to make but never fulfill, he said.
Of the events at The Club, Simpkins said he remembered talking to the bartender, going into the bathroom and playing pool, but most of the other details remain "blurry," he said.
One witness testified seeing Simpkins rinsing his blood-caked knife off in the restroom sink and explaining that "some chick tried to off herself with this knife."