Family Says Suspect Was Home Night Of Murder -- He Watched `Lion King' Two Times, Relatives Testify

Relatives of slaying suspect Ian Simmers say he was at home in bed the night Rodney Gochanour was stabbed to death on the Burke-Gilman Trail.

According to testimony yesterday by Simmers' mother, stepfather and stepbrother, the teenager watched "The Lion King" two times before going to sleep in the family's home outside Carnation on March 10, 1995. He didn't leave home until the next day, they testified.

Simmers, now 17, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Gochanour, 35. Prosecutors allege Simmers killed Gochanour, who was heading home from a tavern, for the thrill.

In a fast-moving day of testimony, defense attorney John Hicks also called Simmers to the stand to describe the movie's plot. Another witness, convicted murderer Darrell Cloud, also was called to challenge earlier testimony by an alleged jailhouse informant who testified that Simmers had admitted killing Gochanour.

But the pillar of the defense case is testimony from Simmers' mother, Donna Berube, her husband, Dave Berube; and his 14-year-old son, Brian Berube.

All three testified Simmers was home March 10. David Berube testified he picked up his stepson in Redmond and brought him home about 7:30 p.m. Donna Berube testified her son was watching the movie when she arrived home from a meeting. And Simmers' stepbrother said he slept in a bed next to the defendant and saw Simmers when he woke up the next morning.

Prosecutors challenged the witnesses' contention that Simmers couldn't sneak out of the 14-by-66-foot mobile home and back in without waking the others or getting the attention of the family's three dogs.

The defense also attempted to discredit Simmers' jailhouse acquaintance, Kevin Olsen, who testified Tuesday that Simmers had admitted killing Gochanour.

Cloud, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994, testified he was housed in a cell next to Olsen and could hear Simmers and Olsen talking. "He always denied he was guilty," Cloud said.