Jury finds Jimmy Rodgers guilty of second-degree murder of Teresa Sievers

A jury has found Jimmy Rodgers guilty of trespassing and second-degree murder on Wednesday at the Lee County courthouse in the 2015 death of Dr. Teresa Sievers inside her Bonita Springs home.

Second-degree murder and trespassing were both lesser charges the jury could find Rodgers, 29, guilty of, taking the death penalty off the table. The jury could not agree that Rodgers was part of a plan to kill Teresa Sievers.

Assistant State Attorney Cynthia Ross said they will be asking for a life sentence. “This jury worked very hard, spent a lot of time, paid very close attention to all the evidence,” she said. “We are going to respect that verdict.”

With the guilty verdict, Rodgers could face between 25 years to life in prison. Judge Bruce Kyle said sentencing is set for Nov. 18 at 1:30 p.m.  Next is the trial against Mark Sievers, 51. At this time, Mark Sievers’ trial is scheduled for Nov 12.

Teresa Sievers, 46, was found beaten to death in her kitchen with a hammer on June 29, 2015. Mark Sievers is accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife, Teresa Sievers. He faces a first-degree murder charge. The third suspect in the murder, Curtis Wayne Wright Jr., pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2016 and is expected to be sentenced in December.

A dramatic moment in the trial was during opening statements and witness testimony on Oct. 10. Dr. Mark Petritis, a family friend of Mark and Teresa Sievers, first found the victim’s body. The retired medical doctor, who has a specialization in general surgery, went into the Sievers’ home at Mark Sievers’ request. “I approached her more closely and I saw how her head had been bashed in,” he said on the stand.

On Oct. 17, which was the sixth day of the trial, Wright gave chilling testimony on the stand. Wright, a major witness in the case, took a plea deal for his involvement in the murder: 25 years in exchange for his testimony. The state asked Wright a direct question.

“Who killed Dr. Teresa Sievers?” the state asked.

“I did, and Mr. Rodgers,” Wright said.

In testimony, Wright told the court the tight friendship he and Mark Sievers had, dating to high school. Mark Sievers was the best man at Wright’s wedding. While the “good friends” were getting ready, Wright told the court that Mark Sievers said his wife was leaving him and taking their two daughters.

While Wright said to fight for custody, Mark Sievers had other intentions in mind, according to the testimony. Mark Sievers asked Wright for his help in killing his wife. While Wright was shocked by the question, he said he would see what he could do. After a couple of weeks, Wright said he decided he wanted to help Mark Sievers kill his wife. That’s when he went to talk with his friend, Rodgers.

Hours before the murder, Wright and Rodgers went to Walmart to buy supplies for the murder. In the testimony, he said they bought shoes, wet wipes, a couple of towels and some other clothing. Around 10:30 p.m., the pair went to Sievers’ home with a plan in place utilizing those purchases, but it fell apart when Teresa Sievers came home early. “What I would have liked to seen happen was to make it look like an accident,” he said. “I never in a million years envisioned beating her to death with a hammer.”

While Wright originally planned to choke Teresa Sievers and knock her out, he accidentally kicked a dog dish. Alerted by the loud sound, Teresa Sievers ran towards him. Wright hit the victim with a hammer several times but did not knock her out. Wright said as he was hitting Teresa Sievers, she looked up at him and asked, “Why?”

Teresa Sievers’ family was holding hands and holding their breath as they awaited the verdict Wednesday afternoon. The magnitude of the moment could be seen by their demeanor. After the verdict was read, saying Rodgers was guilty of second-degree murder and trespassing, Teresa Sievers’ family quickly left the courthouse. They made no comment to the media.

 

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
Taylor Petras
Writer:Michael Mora
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