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Palmer machete killer's sentences now total 498 years

Debra McKinney
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

PALMER -- Christopher Erin Rogers Jr. was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to an additional 189 years in prison for the Palmer portion of his 2007 murder binge that began when he walked into his father's bedroom swinging a machete and ended with the shooting of random strangers in Anchorage, a 26-hour rampage that left two dead and three wounded.

With Rogers sentenced in November to 309 years for the Anchorage end of his spree, he's now looking at nearly half a millennium.

Before Palmer Superior Court Judge Vanessa White handed down her sentence, Rogers' public defender, John Richard, made a plea for giving his client hope that one day, maybe when he's 70, he might possibly be free.

"We're on the precipice, looking at sentencing a troubled young man to a greater composite sentence than Robert Hansen received for kidnapping, torturing, raping 29 women and then taking them out in the Bush, letting them loose and hunting them down and killing them."

Hansen, Alaska's most infamous serial killer, received 461 years; Rogers: 498.

In the first of two trials, Rogers was convicted in December 2008 for the machete murder of his father, Christopher Rogers Sr., the attempted murder of his father's fiancee, Elann "Lennie" Moren, animal cruelty for hacking his father's dog when it tried to intervene, and several other charges. Sentencing was delayed several times.

Rogers was convicted last April for the Anchorage part of his spree. A jury found him guilty of murder for the shooting death of college student Jason Wenger, the attempted murders of law clerk Liz Rumsey and landscape architect Tamas Deak, robbery, assault and other charges.

Moren, who saw and heard her fiancee being hacked to death by his own son, was in court Tuesday to read her victim-impact statement.

Dressed in a black pantsuit, scars covered, her damaged leg still in a brace under her slacks, she moved about slowly. But she moved. In the beginning doctors didn't think she'd ever walk again.

She started by showing the court a framed photograph of Chris Rogers Sr., the man who left her poems and love notes, the man she planned to marry. She talked about the love they had and the love she lost. And then she entered the murky waters of his previous family dynamics and the impact she believes it had on his son.

"Erin told me as he grew older, Scary Sherry -- and that is how he referred to his mother -- would slap him because he looked like his father."

"Your honor, objection," public defender, John Richard, groaned. "I understand she has a right to make a victim-impact statement but that's not what this is."

What Moren had to say didn't please Rogers's mother, Sherry Kelly, either.

"She never knew me!" she snipped from the gallery, loud enough for all to hear.

In and out of the courtroom, the two women have told vastly different stories about the kind of man Chris was, and the type of father he was to his son.

White acknowledged Richard's objection, but let Moren continue. And so she did.

In the end, she put it this way:

"Your honor, Christopher Erin Rogers Jr. butchered my heart, filleting it as surely as he slaughtered his father. Show him the same mercy he showed us."

Once finished, she paused on her way back to her seat and put her hands atop those of Alaska State Trooper Alfred Borrego, who was there at the hospital trauma unit when she was all cut to pieces and, she says, gave her the hope she needed to fight for her life.

In urging a 202-year sentence, prosecutor Roman Kalytiak called this one of the most heinous crimes he'd ever seen.

"There are cases, you honor, where the facts of the case completely overshadow the person's background, family dynamics or whatever was troubling the person at the time."

From his vantage point, this was definitely one of them.

Rogers, in leg and wrist restraints, spent most of the proceedings with his eyes downcast. In addition to his long beard and shaved head, his two eyebrows were shaved off.

When offered the chance to talk, he took it.

"There's not a whole lot I can say. I'm sorry and remorseful for what I've done ...

"I'm sorry it affected so many people and so many different families. I'm at loss for words.

In a pre-sentencing questionnaire, Rogers wrote that he wished he'd never been born.

"I wish I could die today. ... I do hope that capital punishment is passed in Alaska and that I'm eligible for that. Because thinking about my crime and what happened, every day tears me apart more than people believe."

Moren can't go there.

"It's real hard time right now because I've always supported myself," she said after it was all over. "What I get for being disabled is not enough to live on. So I'm living with friends and technically homeless.

"It's difficult when you think he gets three squares and a cot. And I can't even count on that.

"I'm glad to know that he regrets what he did to his father, and will know that every day of his life. And that's why I hope he lives a long, long life."

Find Debra McKinney online at adn.com/contact/dmckinney or call 257-4465.


By DEBRA McKINNEY
dmckinnney@adn.com