Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in state trooper's death
Posted January 27, 2014
Nashville, N.C. — 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."