Defendant says he'd kill again

A self-proclaimed prophet who says he was ordered by God to arrange a 1998 shooting death in Mountlake Terrace said Wednesday he will kill again if the spirit moves him.

Christopher Turgeon

"If God tells me to kill, I will do that," Christopher Turgeon, 37, told a Snohomish County Superior Court jury.

The testimony came as Turgeon, the former leader of a now-defunct religious band that called itself The Gatekeepers, spent a second full day being questioned about his religious beliefs and the role he played in the killing of Dan Jess, 40.

Turgeon and another former member of the group, Blaine Alan Applin, 30, are on trial for first-degree murder in connection with the ambush shooting of Jess at the trailer where he made his home in Mountlake Terrace.

Turgeon, who claims to be a modern manifestation of the biblical prophet Elijah, repeatedly told the jury that the killing was justified and ordered by God.

Prosecutors counter it was coldblooded murder and that Turgeon and Applin drove from The Gatekeepers' former home in Southern California to ambush Jess because he could expose the group's financial frauds.

Lawyers for both Turgeon and Applin are trying to convince jurors that the pair are innocent by reason of insanity. The defense is taking advantage of an aspect of Washington law that allows lawyers to argue the alleged killers acted because their free will was overcome by what they saw as a holy decree.

But when questioned by his lawyers, Turgeon repeatedly insisted he is sane, and that to argue otherwise plays into Satan's hands.

When questioned by deputy prosecutor David Kurtz, Turgeon also said that killing Jess was an intentional act.

A state psychologist began testifying late Wednesday that both Turgeon and Applin were legally sane at the time Jess was killed. Applin pulled the trigger and Turgeon drove the getaway car, jurors have been told.

Jess was killed in March 1998. The Gatekeepers made headlines later that year when Turgeon and Applin were arrested for a crime spree in the San Diego area that included robberies at adult-oriented businesses and a police chase that involved gunfire.

With a seemingly satisfied smile often on his lips, Turgeon testified in detail about how he and Applin accomplished several "missions" against people he considered "evil doers" subject to God's judgment. The actions were taken in part to raise money to help fund a war against the federal government, which Turgeon contends is run by a Satanic secret society that advertises its presence in part through cryptic symbols on U.S. currency.

One of the people who was targeted for judgment was a U.S. Navy lieutenant who had offered his high-powered motorcycle for sale, Turgeon said. God said The Gatekeepers needed the motorcycle and the man should lose it as plunder because the lieutenant liked to watch R-rated movies and also supported the Navy's "feminist" practice of commissioning female officers, Turgeon said.

Turgeon has already testified that he considers it a biblical abomination for women to be in authority over men.

Turgeon refused to answer lawyers' questions about testimony from other former Gatekeepers regarding how he, Applin and others in the group stalked gay men and abortion providers, looking for opportunities to rob and kill. He did talk about how after his 1998 arrest he had arranged for his eldest daughter, then 14, to marry a thirty-something convict he had met in the San Diego jail.

Turgeon said the man had been a Satanist before they met in jail and Turgeon cast out his demons and recruited him to be a "righteous warrior" for The Gatekeepers. The marriage never happened, however, because Turgeon's daughter ran away from home, jurors were told.

One of Turgeon's lawyers, Guss Markwell of Everett, asked his client what his children likely will say about him in the years ahead.

Turgeon said he expects they will say their father loved them and sacrificed himself to show them how they need to live.

"I hope that gets them through the night, I really do," Markwell said.

Turgeon told his lawyer that that was irrelevant. "The question is," he said, "will it get them into heaven?"