MILTON — Shawn Rogers has pleaded guilty to the murder of fellow inmate Ricky Martin and been convicted at trial of the same crime.
On Friday the state renews a long-delayed effort to see him put to death.
Assistant State Attorney Jack Schlechter secured a first-degree murder conviction Tuesday. He did so with a tremendous assist from Rogers, who acted as his own attorney and basically admitted while addressing the jury that he’d killed Martin.
The trial, which lasted a week, was made necessary by a May 2016 ruling allowing Rogers to withdraw a guilty plea to killing Martin he’d entered a year before.
Circuit Judge Marci Goodman ruled that though Rogers had entered his plea freely, the Court itself could not have known the Florida Legislature would act to require juries in death penalty cases “to render a unanimous verdict on at least one aggravating factor for the death penalty to be considered.”
Because Rogers had pleaded guilty to an aggravating factor along with his guilty plea to the Martin murder, Goodwin said, he should be granted a new trial.
The crime for which Rogers is being tried occurred March 30, 2012 inside the Santa Rosa Correctional Institute. Rogers, already serving a life sentence and well known for prison violence, had somehow been paired as a cell mate with the much smaller Martin.
Corrections officers, responding to a commotion, arrived at the cell to find Martin tied up underneath a prayer rug. When the rug was removed they saw that Martin had been severely beaten. It was learned Martin had been tied down, stabbed and beaten with a sock filled with batteries.
He died a week later.
In his arguments for the death penalty, which State Attorney Bill Eddins said should go through Friday and possibly into Monday, Schlechter must convince the entire jury that at least one factor in the crime committed by Rogers made it so heinous that Rogers deserves to die for it.
Rogers will present “mitigating” factors that will be weighed against the aggravating factors as the death penalty verdict is deliberated.
Circuit Court Judge John Simon has issued a gag order in the Rogers case prohibiting those participating in the trial from speaking publicly on anything other than procedural matters.