WOBURN – Just days before he stabbed James F. Alenson to death, John Odgren approached a classmate with whom he had been feuding and announced he no longer wanted to kill him, the former classmate testified today.
Brendan Piper was a junior at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in 2007. He said Odgren started showing up at card games held at the school, and that they never liked each other.
"I feared him,'' Piper testified in Middlesex Superior Court today where Odgren is on trial for first-degree murder for stabbing Alenson to death inside the high school on Jan. 19, 2007. Odgren, a special needs student with the IQ of a genius and Asperger's syndrome, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Piper said tensions were often high between him and Odgren, whom Piper considered "weird'' and "scary.'' On one occasion, Odgren ran after Piper, holding what Piper feared was a shard of glass in his hand. Piper testified he later learned it was a piece of quartz Odgren carried with him as a good luck charm.
Piper also testified that one point during their contentious interactions, he asked Odgren whether he was a "trench coat killer,'' a reference to the teens who attacked classmates at Columbine High School in 1999.
John Odgren in 2007 (File Photo)
"I asked if he was a trench coat killer and he said, 'Yes,' '' Piper testified.
Piper also said that he once heard Odgren declare to other classmates that "if I killed Piper, no one would care.'' Piper said those comments were made "as if I was worthless.''
But the strangest encounter, Piper said, took place several days before Odgren, as his attorneys concede, killed the slightly built Alenson, whom Odgren did not know.
Odgren approached him in the hallway, reached out, and asked Piper to shake his hand. "Piper, I'm not going to kill you, '' he said, Piper testified.
Piper refused Odgren's peace offering, he said. He also said he never reported the arguments with Odgren to school officials.
Under questioning by defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro, Piper acknowledged that he and Odgren were in nearly the same circle of friends, and that he did little to separate himself from Odgren.
"You weren't afraid to sit in the same area as your group and friends and him?'' Shapiro asked.
Earlier today, a computer expert testified that on the day Alenson died, Odgren watched a violent video on his computer in which faceless cartoon characters stab and shoot each other, red blood exploding out of their wounds.
Andrew Winrow, a computer expert who did a forensic examination of Odgren's computer for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone's office, said the records showed Odgren was online shortly before he went to school.
Winrow testified that at 5:58 a.m. on the day of the slaying, Odgren viewed Madness Avenger, a Flash movie. Odgren, who was then living in Princeton and being driven to school, was picked up at 6:05 a.m.
Jurors also heard a tape-recorded conversation between Odgren and someone who spoke with him after his arrest, while he was being held without bail awaiting trial.
In it, Odgren tells a friend that he had been on the social website hrwiki.org for 16 months, using the screen name of "Hom sarroks.''
A few days before the killing, Odgren left a posting saying he had fallen in love, had personal matters to attend to, and would not be posting again.
Odgren also told the friend he had a keen interest in how the public viewed him. "I had someone Google my name and I had 49,000 results," Odgren said in the conversation.
During this morning's testimony, Odgren kept his head down, resting his face on the defendant's table.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more