Jimmy Rodgers appeals conviction in murder of Teresa Sievers
Attorneys for one of the men convicted in the murder of Dr. Teresa Sievers filed an appeal on his behalf Thursday.
Jimmy Rodgers was convicted of being involved in the killing of Sievers inside her Bonita Springs home in 2015 and was sentenced to life in prison in 2019.
Her husband Mark Sievers was found guilty of first-degree murder and orchestrating the murder and is now on death row.
Curtis Wayne Wright, Mark’s best friend, took a plea deal for a 25-year prison sentence where he admitted to killing Teresa with a weapon. His plea was contingent on the successful prosecution of Mark.
Rodgers was originally indicted on first-degree murder, but a jury acquitted him of that and instead found him guilty of second-degree murder without a weapon. They also acquitted him of conspiracy to commit murder and burglary with a weapon while finding him guilty of misdemeanor trespass.
Judge Bruce Kyle, who presided over the trial, found the verdict befuddling, according to the appeal.
Rodgers’ attorney told us comments from Judge Bruce Kyle at the sentencing sum up why the case should be overturned.
“I guess it is somewhat of a conflicting verdict given the fact he’s been found guilty of murder as a principal but without a weapon, but a weapon clearly was used from the evidence, and I don’t know if that was an intent by the jury to – because they feel your client was taken advantage of because he’s younger or they felt he wasn’t as culpable or involved, or that they didn’t like the fact that Mr. Wright got second-degree murder because there was no mention of a weapon, but a mention of what his charge was and what he pled to was mentioned,” Kyle said, according to the appeal brief.
The defense attorney says it’s because Rodgers was found guilty of murder without a weapon, but evidence showed a weapon was clearly used in the crime.
The appeal describes the verdict as “legally inconsistent.”
Rodgers’ defense team were also not allowed to question Wright about his motive in the killing, the appeal states.
“The trial court rules that Curtis Wright was already a murderer, so any specific additional questioning that the defense wanted to pursue in this regard was irrelevant,” the appeal states, meaning the jury was unable to hear why Wright “might have wanted to kill (Teresa Sievers) by himself.”
“The trial court denied Mr. Rodgers constitutional right to confront witnesses,” it adds.
Rodgers’ attorney also argues there was insufficient evidence in the case. She says no fingerprints, blood, DNA, email or cellphone records link him to the crime.
Walmart surveillance cameras captured images of Rodgers shopping in Lee County the day before Teresa Sievers’ murder.
A group of judges will ultimately review the argument made by Rodgers and his attorneys and rule on the appeal.