Rodgers and Wright with Rodgers’ girlfriend
NBC-2 has located photos of Estero murder suspects hanging out with each other just weeks ahead of her brutal murder. The two men, Jimmy Rodgers and Curtis Wayne Wright, were arrested yesterday in Missouri, but there is evidence to show they had been in Florida near the time of the murder. There is apparently evidence of ties to Sievers through her husband. We are still waiting for more details regarding the evidence in the case.
Fivethirtyeight.com took an in-depth look at the growing use of Risk Assessments in the criminal justice system. Risk Assessments generally use statistical comparisons to determine whether people’s circumstances are more likely to re-offend. So far, they have primarily been used as part of the evaluation as to what bond, if any, is appropriate for pretrial release. One of the main functions of bond are to protect the community from future harm, and the statistics can help predict the likelihood of additional offenses while the person is on community release. They are used here in Lee County as part of the First Appearance (bond) hearing, as well as statewide in Juvenile court.
Now, some places are considering using them in sentencing, the article specifically references Pennsylvania considering it. In theory, such a sentencing plan could help provide less harsh sentences for people who are unlikely to re-offend. However, the big problem that jumps out is the converse… that people could be sentenced more harshly for the chance that they could commit more crimes. That is, they would be punished for crimes they had not committed. That’s inherently problematic, and would likely face Constitutional challenges if the doctrine ever becomes law. There are additional problems, such as inherent racial imbalances that would likely permeate a statistical system, and departing from individual, case by case sentencing that could specifically consider the characteristics of each case and each Defendant.
The use of Risk Assessments in sentencing runs a severe risk unfairly punishing people based on speculative, generic “likelihood” guesses of future offenses. That doesn’t do a good job of evaluating the person involved, and may not sentence people for the crimes they actually commit. Further, it is likely to run afoul of Constitutional safeguards against unusual punishment.
Possible Hit Man, Jimmy Rodgers, “The Hammer”
Jimmy Rodgers, of Missouri, is the man that an arrest warrant was obtained for arrest in the murder of Bonita Springs doctor, Theresa Sievers. According to NBC-2, who has owned this story, there are reports out of Missouri that people knew him as a hit man, and that he went by the nickname, “The Hammer.” While details about the murder have been closely guarded by authorities, neighbors had heard that a hammer may have been the murder weapon. Sheriff Scott previously referred to the murder as a targeted killing. NBC-2 is also reporting there is a known connection between Rodgers and Sievers’ family.
Rodgers is already in jail in Missouri on a Federal probation violation.
UPDATE: Sheriff Mike Scott has announced that another Missouri man has also been arrested in relation to the murder. Curtis Wayne Wright is apparently a childhood friend of Sievers’ husband, according to NBC-2. Also, NBC reports that Rodgers was spotted Lee County at the time of the murders, and made admissions to people in Missouri about committing the murder.
Curtis Wayne Wright’s possible Facebook photo, per NBC-2
NBC-2 is reporting that there is a warrant awaiting a signature from a judge to make an arrest in the brutal Bonita Springs murder of Dr. Theresa Sievers. They are also reporting that Lee county officers have been in Missouri, recently. Details have been scarce, but Sheriff Mike Scott previously indicated there is evidence the murder was not random.
UPDATE: A man, who may have been a professional hitman, has been arrested in Missouri.
Former SWFL Congressman Trey Radel, who has been keeping a low profile since stepping down form his elected position after a drug arrest, has recently stepped back into the spotlight for the specific purpose of addressing the harsh sentences for nonviolent drug charges, and especially minimum mandatory sentences. In his CNN article, Radel makes several points that we have expressed on Crimcourts before: that such sentences don’t treat the problem of drugs, and are wildly expensive burdens on tax payers. He makes some good points: it’s worth checking out.
Here’s some of our past articles on Minimum Mandatory sentences.
Michael Spiegel Mug Shot
There was never any doubt that he did it, he was apprehended shortly after the crime splattered with the victims’ blood. However, Michael Spiegel’s defense at trial was that he was not sane at the time of the killings. The jury found him guilty in just a couple of hours.
Insanity is an affirmative defense, which means the burden is on the Defendant to prove that he was insane at the time. It’s difficult to do, especially when two people are brutally killed. There was evidence of a long history of mental illness, but the jury did not find it sufficient. The State argued that the steps he took demonstrated planning: which is indicative that he understood the nature and wrongness that he undertook. The finding today doesn’t mean that he wasn’t crazy, but that the jury wasn’t convinced that he was so mentally impaired that he did not appreciate what he was doing or that it was wrong.
There is a 25 year minimum mandatory sentence on the firearm charge. Due to his age, Mr. Spiegel will almost certainly die in prison, even if the judge doesn’t give him a life sentence.
You can read the standard Florida jury instruction on Insanity here.
Less than a week after the chief of FMPD was fired, NBC-2 is reporting that residents and businesses in the Dunbar community are complaining about harassment. They are not revealing the name of the officer until they get more information, but it apparently has given enough concern that city councilman Streets has requested more information from the city manager. I’m passing it along, even without much detail, because the story sounds so familiar. Just today I had a client in my office expressing concerns about police activity similar to what multiple witnesses describe in the NBC-2 story.
Holly Hogue Edwards
It’s bean a bad week for attorneys living outside the law. A few days ago, a California attorney was arrested for murder. Now, an attorney from Macon, Georgia has been arrested and accused of selling oxycodone and methamphetamine. ATL reports she claims to be the “go-to girl” for criminal defense, and she refers to herself as the Dragon Lady on her firm Facebook page.