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A self-described methamphetamine dealer gave rambling, emotional testimony at his murder trial Wednesday in an attempt to explain to an Anchorage jury why he fatally shot another man last year in Mountain View.

Ryan Angelo Malapit Sargento, 29, admits to killing 30-year-old John Lee “Dopey” Taylor outside an apartment building on Thompson Avenue the morning of June 2, 2010.

The jury heard Sargento’s side of the story: that he fired in self-defense.

“I shot him, to protect my life,” Sargento said from the witness stand. “He told me he was going to kill me.”

Sargento has been in trouble with the law since he was 18 years old, when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge. Then-Gov. Frank Murkowski pardoned him for that crime years later, in 2006. Sargento’s mother, a state employee appointed by Murkowski, had requested the pardon.

Prosecutors described both Sargento and the man he shot, Taylor, as drug lords. Police said the two might have been engaged in a dispute over a cellphone that Taylor thought Sargento had stolen.

Sargento said Wednesday he wasn’t the big-time dealer prosecutors had made him out to be. He disputed the claim that he’d taken Taylor’s phone to steal the other dealer’s meth buyers, or “knocks,” as Sargento called them.

“I don’t go and get people’s cellphones … and try to take their knocks,” Sargento said. “No way, shape or form I would ever do that, I swear to you on my life. That is not how I roll, man.”

Questioned first by his lawyer, Rex Butler, and then by Assistant District Attorney Sharon Marshall, Sargento said Taylor had been violent, aggressive and angry at him about four days before the shooting.


It was late May 2010 when Taylor called Sargento to ask for help with a dispute between Taylor and someone else. It was unclear what the dispute was about, and Sargento was across town with his son when Taylor called, the defendant testified. Sargento told Taylor he couldn’t help.

Two days later, Taylor called him again, Sargento said. He asked Sargento to meet him in the parking lot of an apartment building near Boniface Parkway and 24th Avenue.

Sargento said he went to the parking lot and climbed into the front passenger seat of a car. Taylor sat behind him. Another man, named “Canteen,” was in the driver’s seat, Sargento said.

That’s when Taylor put a gun to his back and forced him to call himself a derogatory name, Sargento said.

“I said, ‘What are you doing? I thought we were friends,’ ” Sargento told the jury. “He told me next time he sees me he’s going to kill me, and I took him literal.”

The next time Sargento saw Taylor was two days later at the Mountain View apartment, he said. In the meantime, Sargento had bought a gun. A 9mm Hi-Point pistol.


It was early in the morning, about 6 a.m., and Taylor was knocking on the apartment door. Don’t answer, Sargento told everyone inside. The group had been up smoking methamphetamine after delivering some fake meth to a buyer in Chugiak, Sargento said.

No one answered the knock. Taylor had apparently left.

Sargento guessed it was 20 or 30 minutes later when he left the apartment heading for his truck, which had been parked behind a different building in an attempt to avoid Taylor, Sargento said.

Sargento walked through an alley between two buildings. He rounded a corner, and there was Taylor, he said.

“He gets out the car as soon as he sees me,” Sargento said.

“He gets up and he goes like this under his jacket,” Sargento said putting one hand under his belt buckle. “(He was) like, ‘What’s up, man? Come over here,’ like he’s trying to tell me to come over here, know what I’m saying?”

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to do,” Sargento said. “Somebody tells you they’re going to kill you, what are you going to do, know what I’m saying?”

“What did you do?” Butler asked.

“I just knew that I had to protect myself, man. I just protect myself. I have a right to protect myself, know what I’m saying?” Sargento said.

Butler asked again: “What did you do, son?”

“I took my gun out and I shot him. I thought he was going to shoot me,” Sargento said.

Police said Sargento ran from the scene, threw his gun away and hid.

A police dog sniffed him out about two blocks away.

Sargento, who is also charged with evidence tampering, is expected to return to the stand this morning for questioning by prosecutors.

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