Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"I think you should get life"

Another article about victim opposition to the death penalty from Eric Rogers, whose parents were murdered in 2006. This is from California's CBS, posted yesterday:

A man who witnessed his uncle murder his parents in their El Cerrito home in 2006 told his parents' killer in court in Martinez Monday that he does not think he should be executed for his crimes.

Eric Rogers was 17 years old when Edward Wycoff, now 40, broke into his family's home 1467 Rifle Range Road in the El Cerrito hills shortly before 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2006, and stabbed and bludgeoned his parents, Julie Rogers, 47, and Paul Rogers, 48.

During the attack, Eric Rogers and his 12-year-old sister hid in a bedroom while Eric Rogers called 911.

In court Monday, Eric Rogers, now 21, told Wycoff, "I think you should get life without the possibility of parole."

"I think the death penalty would be wrong. I think you are mentally childish. I think you are very immature," Rogers said. "I've talked to people who have known you for a long time and they say you haven't changed much since you were about 9 years old."

Wycoff was convicted Oct. 27 of two counts of first-degree murder with enhancements for the use of a knife and a wheelbarrow handle in the killings.

Jurors, who deliberated for about 45 minutes before returning their guilty verdicts, also found true the special-circumstance allegation that Wycoff committed multiple murders, which makes him eligible for the death penalty.

The same jury is now listening to testimony in the penalty phase of the trial and will be asked to decide whether Wycoff should be executed for his crimes.

Wycoff, who is acting as his own attorney, claimed during the first phase of the trial that he had the right to kill Julie and Paul Rogers because they were "bad people" and were out to get him. He claimed that he deserved to be rewarded for killing them because he had made "the world a better place" by "eliminating" them.

Eric Rogers said outside the courtroom that his parents, who were both attorneys, had been opposed to the death penalty and that he and most of his family were opposed to the death penalty.

"I think that killing in hatred is something that is associated with my uncle and not my parents," Eric Rogers said. "I don't think we can teach people that killing is wrong by killing people."

Despite a ballot measure passed in 2008 known as The Victims' Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy's Law, which says victims have the right to be heard during criminal proceedings, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge John Kennedy ruled Monday that Eric Rogers could not testify about his or his parents' feelings about the death penalty.

"In any event, the right to be heard certainly does not confer a right to testify to matters the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court have deemed inadmissible in a capital trial," Kennedy said in a written ruling issued Monday.

Both sides are prohibited from asking about Julie and Paul Rogers' feelings about the death penalty, witnesses' feelings about the death penalty and the impact the death penalty would have on the victims if Wycoff is sentenced to death, including a lengthy appeals process, Eric Rogers' attorney Ted Cassman said.

The judge said that once the penalty phase of the trial is over, he will reconsider Eric Rogers' request to testify about his feelings about the death penalty. In the meantime, telling Wycoff he doesn't believe he should be executed for his crimes was as much as Eric Rogers was permitted to say about the potential sentence.

Among his many reasons for killing Julie and Paul Rogers, Wycoff said he didn't approve of the Rogers' liberal political beliefs and didn't like the way they were raising their three children. He said he had planned to kill the parents and then adopt the children and raise them himself.

"My dad was one of the most intelligent and compassionate people I've ever known," the couple's daughter, now 16, testified Monday.

She said he was generous, calm, sincere, caring and open-minded.

She said her mother was "also very compassionate and intelligent."

"She thought a lot. She was very creative, really kind and thoughtful," the daughter said.

The night of the murders, Paul Rogers came into his daughter's bedroom and kissed her on the cheek while she was talking on the phone. After she went to bed, her father knocked on her bedroom door and told her goodnight, but she said she pretended she was asleep.

Her mother had been sitting on the couch that night reading and drinking tea. She tucked her daughter into bed and kissed her goodnight.

The next time the girl saw her father, he was lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood with a large knife stuck in his back. The daughter ran and got a towel and held it around the wound to try to stop the bleeding.

But, she said, she doesn't remember her father that way. She thinks about him eating chips and guacamole and leaning over his computer and she remembers the way his mustache moved when he smiled.

She never saw her mother again. Police found Julie Rogers in the backyard. She had been stabbed multiple times and severely beaten. She was taken to the hospital, where she died later that day.

The daughter said she still imagines her mother picking her up from school and calling her funny names. She said she misses everything about her parents, even the things that used to annoy her.

After her parents' were murdered, their daughter moved away from her friends and everyone she had ever known and went to live with her aunt and uncle in Lafayette.

She said she felt like a burden to them and developed anxiety, depression and drug and alcohol addiction.

"I developed a cynical view of the world. It's hard for me to trust people," she said.

She said she doesn't play harp anymore and she doesn't wear colors.

"I'm not happy. I don't want to wear happy colors," she explained.
When asked what she missed most about her parents, she said she
missed their openness and accepting natures.

No comments: