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Fargo man gets 30 years for wife’s murder

FARGO – A Fargo man was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison for murdering his wife in a case in which he initially tried to convince authorities she committed suicide.

In handing down the sentence to Ronald William Rogers Jr, Cass County District Court Judge Lisa Fair McEvers told Rogers that the life of his wife, Elizabeth, was worth more than the 25-year sentence the prosecution had requested.

Rogers’ attorney, Ross Brandborg, had requested 17 years.

Under state law, Rogers must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, or about 25½ years, before he is eligible for parole.

McEvers said she could have given Rogers life without parole, but agreed with a number of mitigating factors listed by the defense and prosecution, including the fact Rogers had largely lived a law abiding life prior to shooting his wife Feb. 19 in their south Fargo home.

Rogers spoke briefly during the sentencing hearing Monday morning, stating that if he could go back in time and change what happened, he would.

“This wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t drinking so heavily that night,” Rogers said.

“Drinking can’t be an excuse for this kind of conduct,” McEvers said.

A trial was averted in the case after Rogers pleaded guilty to a charge of murder and a lesser charge of willful disturbance of a body for tampering with his wife’s body to make it look like she had committed suicide by shooting herself in the head.

However, Branborg said after Monday’s hearing that he will be filing an appeal based on pre-trial rulings the judge made regarding the admissibility of a statement Rogers made to investigators.

Prosecutors have characterized the statement as being a confession.

Cass County prosecutor Tristan Van de Streek said the appeal will likely be decided by the State Supreme Court.

He said if the appeal is successful, Rogers would be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas.

Dave Olson | Forum News Service

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