The Jimmy Rodgers Trial is Underway, Opening Statements were this Morning

Jimmy Ray Rodgers

Jimmy Rodgers, one of three men charged with the murder of Dr. Teresa Sievers in her Bonita Springs home in 2015 is on trial in Fort Myers. Jury selection began last Monday, and this morning the attorneys gave their opening statements. The State argues that Rodgers traveled here with Curtis Wayne Wright, who had allegedly been hired by the third Defendant Mark Sievers, Teresa’s husband. There’s substantial evidence to show that Rodgers and Wright traveled to Southwest Florida together from Missouri, and that they were here when Sievers was beaten to death in her home.

Curtis Wayne Wright has already pled guilty to his involvement, and agreed to serve 25 years in prison in exchange for his testimony for the state. That’s obviously something that the Defense will attack as to his credibility. Further, he gave several differing statements, at least eight, according to the Defense in their opening statement. The challenge will be for the State to use Wright to prove not just that Rodgers was present, but that he participated in the crime. The State also plans to use the testimony of Rodgers’ then girlfriend, to whom Rodgers allegedly admitted to killing Dr. Sievers. However, Rodgers’ girlfriend has been paid by the state about $400 per month for the four years since the crime, so the Defense will attack her credibility as well.

Crime Scene tech Van Waus testifying

The Defense conceded in opening that Rodgers traveled to Fort Myers with Wright, but deny that he was involved in the conspiracy with Mark Sievers to commit the murder. The State’s only evidence that directly ties Rodgers to the murder itself is the testimony of Curtis Wright. Not only is there a strong attack on Wright’s credibility, but Wright admitted that he was the first to attack Sievers. He says only after he struck her a couple times did Rodgers jump in to actually kill her. Wright’s testimony will be must-see viewing. Rodgers faces the death penalty, as does Mark Sievers.

Thieves in Miami Steal a Parrot so it Won’t Snitch

Cuca the Parrot

Report out of Miami today that an African Grey parrot named Cuca was taken from a home by burglars, along with jewelry and guns. Cuca knew hundreds of words. At least one thief was caught, but Cuca was not recovered. The owner heard on the streets that she was killed to keep her quiet about the identity of the thieves. Miami out Miamis itself, again.

via the indispensable David Ovalle

One of the Sievers Homicide Trials Likely to Start Tomorrow

It’s been over four years since Dr. Theresa Sievers was brutally murdered in her Lee County home. Her husband Mark Sievers, Mark’s friend from Missouri Curtis Wayne Wright, and an apparent acquaintance of Wright’s who is also from Missouri, Jimmy “The Hammer” Rodgers were all arrested for the killing and charged with First Degree Murder. Curtis Wright later entered a plea to murder in exchange for 25 years in prison with an agreement to give substantial assistance in the other cases, which means he will need to testify for the state. Sievers and Wright are facing the death penalty.

Theresa Sievers

Both defendants are seeking a continuance of the trial, but the judge is eager for prosecution to go forward. He has set four weeks aside to handle the case on the court calendar, and a few weeks ago the cases were severed, so they will not be tried together. That means only one can go, and Rodgers is the most likely to start this month. Since the jury must be death qualified, it will take several days to pick a jury, and maybe a couple weeks, especially in light of the media coverage the case has gained. But we won’t know until the cases go before the judge in the morning.

Body Cam Footage Released in St. Paul Police Shooting

It’s incidents like these that leave me astounded that not every police and sheriff’s department provides body cams to its officers. A week ago, a St. Paul police officer shot and killed Ronald Davis, who the officer said had attacked him after Davis rammed the officer’s patrol car. Protesters took to the streets to call for justice, though dispatch audio indicated the officer shouting “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” It was poised to be another touchpoint for a story about a black man being killed by a police officer, and several people claimed they didn’t believe the official story that Davis had a knife.

The video was released Tuesday, and it’s dramatic. The officer gets out of his car after he’s struck, and is immediately set upon by Davis. The video shows Davis attacking the officer, knife in hand, knocking him to the ground. The officer gets up and tries to get away, with Davis continuing to pursue him. The officer shouts for him to drop the knife, and ultimately fires when he fails to comply. The video shows that the officer had a grave reason to fear for his safety, and conclusively shows that his actions were justified. Why Davis attacked him is unclear, and the loss of life is certainly a tragedy, but the video gives a lot more insight into what happened, and prevents a false narrative from going any further. I would urge all law enforcement agencies to follow this practice, and supply body cams and other recording devices for officers.

You can watch the video but are forewarned that it is violent and contains mature content:

 

The Dallas DA did an Interview, in Spite of a Gag Order, and the Judge Couldn’t Stand it

Amber Guyger

I should really say the judge couldn’t sit for it, because when she heard the DA had done an interview the night before the trial, she literally couldn’t stay in her chair. The judge is presiding over the Dallas trial of the former police officer Amber Guyger, who went into the wrong apartment apparently thinking it was her own, and shot the resident. The defense is arguing mistake of fact, and it appears they are claiming Guyger was distracted by sexy texts with her partner around the time she entered the incorrect apartment. There was some controversy, as she was initially charged with manslaughter, which is not the correct charge, since she definitely intended to shoot Mr. Jean. The new DA upped the charges to murder, and then couldn’t stop himself from talking to the media on the eve of trial.

Botham Jean

The case is a clear tragedy. While Ms. Gugyer was a cop, she was not on the job. It is indisputed that Mr. Jean was not in the wrong- it was his apartment. Not only that, he was a leader in his church and community. It will be up to a jury to decide if her mistake of fact was reasonable, so as to excuse her grave mistake of killing an unarmed black man in his own home. That’s a tough sell for the defense.

Here’s a story about the judge presiding over the case, and her reaction:

Inmate Tries to Claim Reward Money in Theresa Halbach’s Murder by Claiming that he did it

Joseph Evans

A convicted murdered has written a letter claiming that he was actually responsible for the death of Theresa Halbach. Halbach is the young woman who was the victim in the case for which Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, have been convicted of murder. Avery’s post-conviction attorney has released the letter from Joseph Evans, who is already serving a life-sentence for murdering his wife in 2008. Evan’s letter comes on the heels of an announcement that there is now a $100,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the real killer of Theresa Halbach. Evans specifically cites the reward as the reason he’s coming forward with his so-called confession.

Avery’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner is unimpressed by the claimed confession. Not only is his financial motive clear, he previously tried to play the other side a few years ago, writing that Avery had confessed to him when they were cellmates. The guy has no credibility. Zellner was more blunt, saying it is “worthless, unless it is corroborated.” She does indicate that the defense is continuing, notwithstanding this distraction, and that they have received some credible tips. In the meantime, Zellner is continuing her appellate fight for a new trial, with her brief coming due in a few weeks.

Indiana Parents charged with Abandoning Adopted Daughter, but they Claim she was Really a 22-Year Old Sociopath

Kristine and Michael Barnett

The headline is the story, because there is no way to abbreviate the lede: two adoptive parents have been arrested and charged with abandoning their adopted daughter, but they claim she had lied about her age, was really an adult, and had even tried to harm them when she was living with them. If it sounds like something out of a movie, you would be right, because it’s basically the plot of the 2009 film ‘Orphan’.

It’s undisputed that the couple, Michael and Kristine Barnett, adopted the girl, and that she has a growth disorder that maintains her small stature. However, the parents claim that her maturity and subsequent tests later showed that she was much older. They ultimately went to court and had her birth certificate corrected from 2003 to 1989, changing her age from eight to 22. Apparently, the decision was later challenged and upheld by the court. She was then legally an adult, and they helped her get on public assistance and helped her rent a place to live. Police affidavits claim Michael admitted that he knew the girl really was a child, that tests had proven in, and that Kristine had told the girl to tell others she was 22. Michael’s attorney denies the claims in the affidavit. The Barnetts, who are now divorced, are both charged with neglect of a dependent for when they moved to Canada in 2013.

Also, while living at the Barnett home, the possible child allegedly attacked a baby, and trying to poison and electrocute them. It really is the movie ‘Orphan’. Read the whole crazy story at DailyMail.com.