A Santa Rosa Correctional Institution inmate who viciously beat and killed his cellmate in an apparent racial attack was sentenced to death Monday.
Shawn Rogers, 37, will be placed on death row for the murder and kidnapping of Ricky Dean Martin in 2012.
Rogers, who is a black man, and Martin, a white man, shared a cell in the prison. When word of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin’s death made it to the prison, Rogers carried out the racially motivated attack on Ricky Dean Martin that left him tied at the hands and feet, bruised, cut and in a coma that eventually killed him.
The court heard during Rogers’ trial that blood was smeared on the cell’s walls, and Rogers covered Martin’s body with a prayer rug before guards arrived. Martin’s face was covered with a pair of bloody boxer shorts.
A civil lawsuit filed by Martin’s family against the prison further claims Martin had filed grievances in the days before his death, saying he feared for his life and wanted to be moved from Rogers’ cell.
The same suit claims Rogers also raped Martin, though that claim was not presented by the state in Rogers’ criminal case.
Circuit Judge John Simon read a portion of Rogers’ sentencing document during court Monday, finding that the court agrees with the 12-person jury’s unanimous death recommendation.
“Mindful that a human life is at stake … the aggravating factors far outweigh the mitigating factors,” Simon said during sentencing, adding that not only did Rogers murder Martin, but he humiliated him in the process.
Rogers remained stoic as Simon read the document, not making any gestures or saying anything to his attorney, Kenneth Brooks. Rogers will join 349 other Florida prisoners on death row.
Neither Brooks nor prosecutor Jack Schlechter made any motions or arguments before Simon handed down the sentence. Both sides were allowed to present mitigating and aggravating factors in the case at a separate hearing in November, during which Simon heard about Rogers’ troubled past, with one doctor having called his upbringing a “perfect storm” for trouble.
At that same hearing, prosecutors pointed out Rogers had been functional to represent himself at trial, and was capable of premeditation because he voiced to others he would carry out an attack on a white person in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death.
In addition to the death sentence for the murder charge, Simon sentenced Rogers to life in prison for the kidnapping to inflict terror charge.
Simon told Rogers he is entitled to an appeals process and per state law his death sentence will be automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court.
The civil lawsuit is still ongoing in Federal Court.