Friday, July 26, 2013
S.C. Upholds Death Sentence for ‘Cross-Country Killer’ Glen Rogers
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the death sentence for Glen Rogers, dubbed the “Cross-Country Killer” after being captured by Kentucky state police following a high-speed chase and implicated in at least five murders.
Justice Marvin Baxter, writing for a unanimous court, rejected Rogers’ claim that evidence of crimes in other states should not have been admitted at his trial for the killing of Sandra Gallagher, 33, whose strangled and badly burned corpse was found in her car near Rogers’ Van Nuys apartment. She had met the defendant a day earlier at a Van Nuys bar.
The Gallagher murder occurred on Sept. 28, 1995. Within six weeks after that, he is believed to have killed Linda Price in Jackson, Miss.; Tina Marie Cribbs in Tampa, Fla., and Andy Jiles Sutton in Bossier City, La. Each of the women also met Rogers at a bar shortly before being killed.
Rogers, now 51, is also believed to have killed a man in Rogers’ hometown of Hamilton, Ohio in late 1993. He at one time told police he had killed 70 people, but later said he had been joking and that he hadn’t killed anyone.
Following his apprehension in November 1995, Rogers was tried in Florida for the Cribbs murder, convicted, and sentenced to death. He was then brought to California to stand trial for the Gallagher killing.
As part of their case-in-chief, prosecutors sought to introduce evidence of the murders of the other three women. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor—who has since retired—allowed them to introduce evidence of the Cribbs and Sutton murders, subject to an instruction that jurors were only to consider the evidence as proof of intent or of a common design or plan.
Connor also allowed evidence of the Price murder during the penalty phase.
Jurors found Rogers guilty of first degree murder, with the special circumstance that he had previously been convicted of the Cribbs murder, and Connor sentenced him to death, in accordance with the jury verdict.
Baxter, writing for the high court, said the other-crimes evidence was properly admitted.
“The trial court was well within its discretion in ruling that the combination of distinctive marks and similarities in all three murders was sufficient to meet the standard for admissibility of the other crimes evidence on the element of intent, i.e., whether the murder of Gallagher was premeditated and deliberate and committed with express malice,” he wrote. “Defendant selected each of his victims in a similar manner, used a common ploy to lure them to a place where they would be alone before murdering them, then acted in similar fashion after each murder; cleaning up the murder scenes or otherwise attempting to conceal the victims’ bodies to buy himself time to escape, taking personal property from each victim, and fleeing across state lines.”
The justice also rejected an attack on the special-circumstance finding, based on the fact that Cribbs was murdered after Gallagher, and that the Florida conviction was not yet final at the time of the California trial.
The statutes make it clear that the special circumstance requires a prior conviction of murder, not necessarily a prior murder, Baxter said, and clearly do not require that the prior conviction be final. In any event, he noted, Rogers was given the option of delaying the California trial pending a decision on the Florida appeal, but turned down the delay rather than waive his right to a speedy trial.
Justice Ming Chin, concurring in Baxter’s opinion, said Connor could have gone further in admitting evidence of the other murders. He said it would have been appropriate to allow evidence of the Price murder during the guilt phase, and to admit evidence of the three murders not only on the issue of intent or common plan, but also identity.
“The following facts alone provide a compelling inference that defendant committed all four murders: Within a six week period four women in four different states on four different occasions were murdered shortly after they met defendant, previously a stranger to them, in a bar and socialized with him; and defendant suddenly disappeared from the area at precisely the time each murder occurred….I can conceive of only two possible scenarios consistent with defendant’s not being the killer under these circumstances, both unreasonable: (1) Another person, who left behind no evidence of his or her existence, followed defendant from state to state and murdered the women with whom defendant began to socialize at just the time he chose to leave the area; or (2) it is sheer coincidence that each of the four women was murdered by someone else shortly after defendant began socializing with them, and that defendant happened to disappear at precisely the time of each murder. Perhaps one might accept as coincidence two murders in two different states under these circumstances. But when the third and then the fourth murders are added, coincidence cannot be a reasonable explanation.”
The case, People v. Rogers, 13 S.O.S. 3771, was argued in the Supreme Court by William Hassler, by appointment, for the defendant and Deputy Attorney General Keith H. Borjon for the prosecution.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company