‘We just couldn’t put the hammer in his hand:’ Juror in Rodgers’ trial speaks out
For the first time, we’re getting some insight into why a jury convicted Jimmy Rodgers of second-degree murder for the death of Dr. Teresa Sievers.
When the jury got the case, it had options. The most pressing was first-degree murder, which could lead to the death penalty, or second-degree murder, which calls for 25 years to life in prison.
Juror Harry Roberts said for him, that decision was not difficult. For him, the verdict came down to this: “We just couldn’t put the hammer in his hand and there was no evidence he was really in the house,” he said.
Meaning the jury agreed Jimmy Rodgers didn’t deserve to die for his role in the murder of Teresa Sievers. So no first-degree murder conviction and no conspiracy.
“You have the life of, not just the life that was taken, responsibility to them, but you also have a responsibility because you’re holding someone else’s life in your hands too, so it can’t be taken lightly,” said Roberts.
Roberts has lived in Fort Myers since 1992. Twenty-seven years later, he gets put on a jury and it’s the Sievers killing.
“I mean to get that your first time out it’s a life-changing experience,” he said.
Weighing the evidence and the testimonies, trying to get into the heads of Rodgers’ ex-girlfriend Taylor Shomaker and another suspect in the murder, Wayne Wright.
Roberts said he had a tough time deciding who was telling the truth.
“It was really difficult because there was a lot of emotion going on,” he said.
Roberts said he thinks Rodgers knew what he was getting into, but doesn’t think he planned it with Wright and Sievers’ husband, Mark.
“So we were looking for ways he was linked and with all the evidence that was given, like I said, it was the coveralls and his actions that, trying to get rid of evidence is basically what convicted him of it,” he said.
Roberts believes the jury did its job and justice is served.
“It’s over now. What’s going to happen to him, that’s not up to me,” he said.
Roberts said the prosecution has not reached out to talk to him about why the jury reached the verdict it did.
So what does the second-degree murder conviction mean for the murder case going forward?
Mark Sievers’ trial could start next month, and his defense team just got a big heads up.
“They’ve gotten a preview of what the state’s case is going to be,” said Criminal Defense Attorney Lance Dunford.
He said Jimmy Rodgers’ conviction might not play too big of a factor in the next trial.
The prosecution is expected to veer away from the murder itself and focus more on the plan to kill the Bonita Springs mother—her husband, Mark Sievers: the accused mastermind.
“We saw in this trial that the state is asking for first-degree premeditated murder charges and that’s not what the jury came back with,” said Dunford. “Maybe something like that happens in Mr. Sievers’ case?”
Another big factor in Mark’s case will, again, be the testimony of Curtis Wayne Wright, who admitted to killing Teresa.
The jury in Rodgers’ case didn’t seem to believe him, at least not completely. So will they believe the State’s key witness in the next trial?
We’ll have to see.