William Eddins, State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit, announced Wednesday defendant Shawn Rogers entered a plea of guilty as charged to one count of First Degree Pre-Meditated Murder and/or Felony Murder and one count of Kidnapping with Intent to do Bodily Harm. Circuit Judge, Marci L. Goodman, in Santa RosaCounty accepted the plea. Mr. Rogers also waived a penalty phase jury and agreed that the sentence of either death or life in prison without parole would be decided by Judge Marci L. Goodman without a jury. The State Attorney is seeking the Death Penalty as to Count 1, First Degree Murder.
As reported by the Northwest Florida Daily News January 9, Rogers was already serving a life sentence for armed robbery. Rogers received the kidnapping charge for typing up Martin before beating him. His hands and feet were tied with torn strips of bed sheet, and part of a bed sheet was found tied around his neck. Martin’s pants and underwear were found pulled down around his knees, according to Eddins, leading to the victim’s death at SacredHeartHospital in Pensacola April 8, 2012. At the time of his death, Martin had about a year left to serve for burglary, grand theft, and trafficking stolen property.
In a second story, the NWFL Daily News reported Rogers wrote a letter to Judge Goodman admitting to tying and beating Martin to death. However, his scheduled January trial came to a halt after Rogers’ attorney motioned for a continuance due to serious questions regarding how the Florida Department of Corrections handles death investigations as well as guard actions at the prison the night of Rogers’ attack.
Goodman’s concern was over courtroom security saying the Santa Rosa Courthouse has only one with satisfactory security for the trial. According to Assistant State Attorney, Robert C. Elmore, conducting prosecution in the case, starting October 28 in the morning to December 4, Rogers will be brought to the courthouse for the penalty phase hearing. The judge will hear evidence and witness testimony, then in December, the judge will read her sentencing decision.
According to data from the Florida Department of Corrections, the last time Santa RosaCounty sentenced someone to death was in November of 2012. Before then, there was one in 2007, three in 2000, one in 1995, and one in 1989. Elmore, who handled the Hernandez case, said the death penalty “doesn’t get handed down in small counties every week, or every year.”