Local News

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in state trooper's death

Posted January 27, 2014

— A man charged with killing a North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper during a chase more than a year ago tearfully asked for forgiveness from the trooper’s family after pleading guilty Monday in a Nash County courtroom to second-degree murder.

Christopher McCoy Rodgers, 41, was sentenced to 21 to 26 years in prison for the Sept. 8, 2012, death of Trooper Bobby "Gene" DeMuth Jr., who Rodgers hit with a car during a multi-county chase. The chase started in Raleigh after police tried to stop Rodgers in connection with a home invasion at his estranged girlfriend's house.

She told officers that he locked her and her 21-month-old child in a bathroom and stole her ATM card.

As part of his plea agreement, Rodgers was sentenced last week to 13 to 18 years in prison on charges of first-degree burglary, common-law robbery and two counts of first-degree kidnapping for the crimes before DeMuth's death.

Rodgers' defense attorney said his client had a crack addiction, which was a factor in his actions on the morning of the crimes.

DeMuth, 42, was putting out stop sticks on U.S. Highway 64 near Spring Hope when Rodgers hit him.

"You, Christopher, killed my brother. You have no right to be alive," DeMuth's sister, Kathleen Marshall, told Rodgers during Monday's hearing. "Do I think your punishment is good enough? No, I do not."

DeMuth left behind a 9-year-old son and his wife, Michelle DeMuth, who also spoke Monday about the difficulties of now being a single mother.

"I would give anything just to be able to see him," she told Rodgers. "I pray that this judge understands the disregard you have for another person's life."

In a statement issued by the Highway Patrol, she said she was pleased with the outcome of the plea agreement but that her husband's death leaves an "enormous void" in the family.

"We will always long for his infectious smile, outgoing personality, love and compassion," she said in the statement. "Our hearts are forever broken by his death, just as our lives are forever blessed by his life,” said

Rodgers cried in court, apologizing for the pain he caused.

"Look into my eyes to know how sorry I am for what you said I chose to do," he told the trooper's wife. "There are no words that I can say that will bring your husband back to you. I can only tell you that I look upon your husband as one of my heroes, because he unselfishly gave his life at my despair."

"No matter what I do, I cannot be punished enough," Rodgers continued. "I hope that one day you can find it in your hearts to forgive me."

A former Marine and sheriff's deputy in Wilson and Edgecombe counties, DeMuth served with the Highway Patrol for 12 years.

"The senseless death of Trooper Gene DeMuth will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of the Highway Patrol family," Highway Patrol Commander Col. William Grey said in a statement. "Gene died doing what he truly loved: protecting and serving the citizens of this great state. His life was cut short through the senseless act of one individual.

"However, today, justice was served," Grey added. "We will forever be indebted for the sacrifice Gene made on that fateful day."


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  • jglpc13 Jan 29, 2014

    Only God can judge! Christopher will keep his head up and know that all the haters are behind a computer, but he had the courage to admit his wrong and ask for forgiveness!! Chris is remorseful, so as you talk behind his back, watch God bless him in your face........
    Peace and Blessings~

  • Just the facts mam Jan 28, 2014

    He got off way too early - thanks NC Justice System!

  • LocalYokel Jan 28, 2014

    Murder is definitely an appropriate charge for killing people with bad driving. Let's see more of that charge for this crime and not just for killing police officers.

  • tarheelj Jan 27, 2014

    I agree that the penalty is not fitting to the crime but at the same time the plea saves the family a lot of extended heartache through the trial and a Lot of money for the state in the trial...No sentence will bring back Trp. Demuth and Mr. Rodgers will not see life outside of prison again between this sentence and the other sentences...and if so it won't be for long. Putting an end to the court side of it all will give the family a chance to start healing and unfortunately moving on. No matter what his sentence is here he still faces another sentence on judgment day. That is his true and ultimate sentence.

  • Super Hans Jan 27, 2014

    View quoted thread

    It appears to have no place in our society.

  • mewuvbb Jan 27, 2014

    The Justice to this is sickening

  • lwe1967 Jan 27, 2014

    It should have been first degree and the death penalty. He locked a mother and child in a bathroom and stole her ATM card and then proceeded to instigate a chase with the Highway Patrolman and then killed the Patrolman. Prayers to the family and the mother and child.

  • fed.up69 Jan 27, 2014

    He should be forgiven but he should also be given true justice. If he was really remorseful he would ask for the the maximum penalty. He is just trying to save his on hide.

  • disgusted2010 Jan 27, 2014

    Typical lawyer trick. Try to change the focus from cold blooded murder to forgiveness. Justice has nothing to do with forgiveness. He should have gotten life without parole and then worked on forgiveness while being kept away from decent people.

  • mohnkae Jan 27, 2014

    Christ would forgive... The rest of us find it too hard to try... This is part of the tragedy of Humanity.