Richard Rotter listens to witness testimony in his trial at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Monday, March 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Richard Rotter listens to witness testimony in his trial at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Monday, March 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

As prosecution rests, jury hears jail call after Everett cop killing

“Try to put a wild cat inside a cage? … See what happens,” said Richard Rotter, accused of killing officer Dan Rocha.

EVERETT — Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday in the aggravated murder trial of Richard Rotter, following a week of testimony that concluded with an ominous recording of a phone call the defendant made from jail.

Jurors also heard that methamphetamine and fentanyl were found in Rotter’s system the day he shot and killed Everett officer Dan Rocha in a Starbucks parking lot last March.

Washington State Toxicology Laboratory forensic scientist Naziha Nuwayhid performed tests on Rotter’s blood samples from the day of the shooting, she said under questioning by deputy prosecutor Bob Langbehn.

Rotter’s substance intake on that day is central to the defense’s case. Rotter’s attorneys argue a combination of substance abuse and mental health issues impaired his judgment.

The samples, collected about an hour after the shooting, reportedly had traces of meth and fentanyl. The tests cannot determine when Rotter took the drugs or if he was intoxicated at the time of Rocha’s death, according to Nuwayhid’s testimony.

Defense attorney Daniel Snyder cross-examined Nuwayhid about the effects of the drugs.

Shortly after consuming meth, a person might experience more physical strength, confidence and restlessness, Nuwayhid testified.

Later, a user can feel drowsy, uncoordinated and a “mental cloudiness.” Nuwayhid said meth’s late-stage effects are similar to those of fentanyl. Nuwayhid explained more context was needed to determine how the drugs affected Rotter’s mental state.

“Those effects, which are caused by fentanyl or any central nervous system depressant, will be more severe when the person starts taking that drug,” Nuwayhid said. “After developing that tolerance, how much would the magnitude of a certain effect be retained, I do not know.”

As their last witness, prosecutors called Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Kendra Conley. She testified about listening to hours of phone and video calls Rotter made from jail. The jury then heard a snippet of one recorded call to Rotter’s brother in April 2022.

“I think for anybody that feels like they’re going to be harmed, goes into survival mode, there’s certain things that are going to take place, you know?” Rotter said.

“So it’s like a cat,” the defendant continued, “You take a wild cat, try to put a wild cat inside a cage? … See what happens.” He started to chuckle.

Prosecutors rested their case around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The trial will break for a day before the defense begins calling witnesses Thursday.

Snohomish County Superior Judge Bruce Weiss is anticipating the trial will wrap up no later than Monday.

Maya Tizon; 425-339-3434;; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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