State trooper's accused killer pleads guilty to related charges
Posted January 22
Raleigh, N.C. — A Williamston man who authorities say hit and killed a North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper during a high-speed chase pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from offenses that happened prior to the Sept. 8, 2012, pursuit.
Christopher McCoy Rodgers, 41, was sentenced in a Wake County courtroom to 13.5 to 18.3 years in prison on charges of first-degree burglary, common law robbery and two counts of first-degree kidnapping.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said Rodgers forced his way into the Raleigh home of his estranged girlfriend, restrained her and her young child with duct tape, locked them in a bathroom and stole her ATM card, which he then used to withdraw money to buy crack.
The woman eventually managed to free herself and called 911.
After being spotted by Raleigh police, Rodgers led law enforcement authorities in Wake, Franklin and Nash counties on a high-speed chase that ended on U.S. Highway 64 near Spring Hope.
Cummings said Rodgers then hit Trooper Gene DeMuth, who was putting out stop sticks in an effort to end the chase.
"I am very sorry for what transpired," Rodgers tearfully apologized before being sentenced. "I am so sorry for the trouble that I put (DeMuth's family) through."
Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens said the case is an example of how an insignificant event can have rippling effects that lead to disastrous consequences.
"I'm not going to preach at you today. Preaching doesn't do any good now," Stephens told Rodgers. "It's over and done with now, and the consequences of your actions are going to be met with substantial punishment."
Rodgers still faces a murder charge in Nash County for DeMuth's death. Wake County prosecutors said Wednesday that, as part of his plea deal, he will plead guilty in Nash County next week to that.
As a result of both plea agreements, Rodgers will spend a minimum of 35 years in prison.
Rodger's attorney in the Nash County case, Randy Hughes, said his client is an intelligent man with a good family but that a crack addiction led to his actions.
"I just wish there was some way to express to the court how sorry he is and how much remorse he has," Hughes said. "I've seen it through the tears – the remorse – and there's just no way to express it."
More than a dozen state troopers, as well as Highway Patrol Commander Col. William Grey, were in court for Wednesday's hearing.
"The patrol's a family, and as with any family, we felt like we needed to be here," Grey said.
DeMuth, 42, a former Marine, was a 12-year veteran of the agency. He left behind a wife and young son.
Grey described him as a wonderful guy and hard worker.
"Our troopers do a very dangerous job every day," he said. "Gene died protecting the citizens of this state, and we remain indebted to his family and to him for his sacrifice."