Rogers steps up to make ‘cold pleas’


In an unusual

move, a Marbleton woman requested a hearing

to change her “not guilty” pleas in 9th District

Court with no plea agreement in place.

Karen Rogers, 68, told District Judge Marv

Tyler she wanted to take responsibility for

her actions and continue her recovery from a

longtime addiction to painkillers prescribed to

her about 10 years ago to deal with pain from

ranch-related injuries.

The Aug. 27 videoconference hearing

grew emotional with Rogers’ family speaking

to support her decisions.

Judge Tyler asked public defender Rachel

Weksler if Rogers was making a “cold plea”

– with no agreement whatsoever among them

and Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson.

On Feb. 14, Rogers walked into a Marbleton

home and called out; the woman living

there said in her victim impact testimony she

hid because she heard voices and thought

someone might be with the woman.

After hearing a lot of noise, the stranger

left with two bottles of prescriptions and the

woman reported the burglary. Deputy Justin

Hays responded. The deputy recognized the

vehicle and person’s description and went to

ask Rogers to show him what pills she had, his

affidavit states.

The pills were proven to contain felony

amounts of hydrocodone and diazepam –

more than 3 grams of each, it says.

Rogers was charged with felony burglary

for entering into the home of Adrianna and

Roman Piernick, felony possession of hydrocodone

and felony possession of diazepam.

Cold plea

“She is asking to make a no contest plea

for Count I,” Weksler said. “The event was

some time ago and Mrs. Rogers was in the

throes of addiction and her memory is foggy

of those events. She will plead guilty to counts

II and III.”

Weksler said it would be difficult for Rogers

to provide a factual basis for a guilty plea

and that Rogers was entering the pleas on her

own behalf

Judge Tyler asked Rogers if she understood

the results of felony convictions. Rogers

was tearful when she said she spoke with her

family and her two sons spoke on her behalf,

saying she was a different person since the arrest.

Sentencing

Both sides argued their points for and

against prison terms or supervised probation.

Crosson recommended two prison terms at

a women’s correctional facility of four to six

years on the burglary charge and the hydrocodone

possession charge and 13 to 24 months

on the diazepam charge, to run at the same

time.

He pointed to a 1976 assault arrest in the

presentence investigation report, saying it

showed Rogers’ “history of violence is high.”

Weksler said that should not have been in

the PSI report because it was dismissed.

Judge Tyler said if a person is only arrested,

or charged and the charge is dismissed,

it could not be considered in his sentencing.

“She has the presumption of innocence is how

I look at it.”

Crosson called Detective Al Kaderavek to

testify via video and asked him of his knowledge

of 2015 and 2016 incidents when Rogers

was “accused of similar conduct.”

The detective said Deputy Hays filed a

2015 report that Rogers was in a Big Piney

home looking through the refrigerator and a

resident asked her to leave. Hays’ 2016 report

stated that a woman believed to be Rogers

knocked on a door and asked to use a bathroom,

helped carry in groceries and asked to

use a bathroom again. Rogers then left and

went to a neighbor’s house, knocked on the

door and went inside, it states.

“You weren’t part of this initial investigation,”

Weksler asked Kaderavek. “You just

reviewed the documents?”

“No I was not involved in that,” he said.

“I reviewed and confirmed them yesterday.”

Weksler asked if he knew why no charges

were filed at that time.

“No I do not,” he said.

Victim statements

The woman made a brief statement to the

court about how she was affected by the burglary.

After Rogers left, she said, “I was in

fear, shock. … It took me a couple months

to not be skittish. Am I tarnished for life? No

– but someone coming in, it invades your privacy.

Your home doesn’t feel like your home

any more.”

Later, her husband called, telling Judge

Tyler how upset his wife was about the home

invasion of privacy and thefts. “I was not

there,” he said, adding that there would not be

a case if he had been.

Judge Tyler reminded Rogers at sentencing

that people have every right to defend their

homes from people who enter private homes

uninvited and she herself could have been injured

or killed.

Support

Rogers’ two sons Sam and Josh testified

over the phone that their mother always

worked very hard and treated them well. They

both said the differences between Rogers in

the past five to eight years, though, and after

her arrest while clean and sober were considerable,

noticeable and welcome.

High Country counselor Aaron Preece also

testified that Rogers responded well to what

treatment she had received and recommended

supervised probation with a treatment program.

Judge Tyler said he does not “send people

to prison because they are addicts.”

“I’m trying to figure out if you’re a severe

criminal that has addictions or an addict with

criminal behavior,” he said. “I believe your

addictions caused you to commit criminal acts

… that are egregious.”

In almost every state, people can use

deadly force to protect “the sanctity of someone’s

home” and she did not realize “how

close you came to being severely or fatally

injured in their house.”

The judge said he was “giving her the benefit

that you had a severe addiction that caused

you to commit this crime.”

He accepted her “no contest” plea to the

burglary charge and “guilty” pleas to possession.

He sentenced her to eight to 10 years in

prison for burglary, suspended for four year’s

supervised probation, and suspended a $5,000

fine. He ordered her to serve three months in

the Sublette County Jail as a split sentence.

On the possession of hydrocodone, Judge

Tyler sentenced Rogers to four to six years in

prison, suspended for four years of probation

and substance abuse treatment, and suspended

a $2,000 fine. On the charge of diazepam possession,

he sentenced her to 18 months to two

years, also suspended for concurrent probation.

Weksler asked if Rogers could begin her

jail time Monday; Judge Tyler said it would

depend on the facility’s ability to take her in

that quickly.

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