Attorneys blame daughter for Lincolnshire sledgehammer attack
By Beth Kramer firstname.lastname@example.org January 15, 2013 6:18PM
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:33AM
A 14-year-old daughter conspired with a 17-year-old to attack her father and his new wife while they were in bed asleep, not the man’s ex-wife, defense attorney Gillian Gosch said Tuesday.
Gosch represents former Mundelein woman Sandra Rogers, who is charged with attempted murder for the May 19, 2003, attack on her ex-husband and his wife at their Lincolnshire home. Gosch and prosecutors Danielle Pascucci, Rod Drobinski and George Pappas were before Lake County Circuit Court Judge John Phillips on Tuesday to finalize what evidence will be allowed at Rogers’ upcoming trial Jan. 28.
Prosecutors said Rogers used sex and drugs to manipulate co-defendant Jonathan McMeekin, who was 17 at the time, to help her attack her ex-husband and his new wife with a sledgehammer.
“We believe (the ex-husband’s daughter) was the accomplice,” said Gosch. “After Ms. Rogers was arrested, there were some incidents between (the daughter) and her father. He was arrested for domestic battery and she (the daughter) was taken into juvenile custody. It’s directly relevant to the case that (her father) believed (his daughter) was involved.”
Philips ruled the father’s opinion as to the identity of his assailant was not proper for a jury to hear.
He did rule to allow some of the teenage girl’s diary entries to be presented as evidence. The teenager wrote a poem titled “Daddy Dearest” and about 25 ways to kill him, Gosch said. The 25 ways in her writings have similarities to some of the ways the attack happened, Gosch said. The teenager also wrote about hating her father, Gosch said.
“I think it’s not uncommon behavior for adolescents to be angry with their parents then they are strict and (say they) wish the parents dead,” said Pascucci, arguing against allowing the diary entries to be presented as evidence.
Phillips will rule on each entry individually Thursday.
He will also rule on another issue Thursday. Gosch said she wants to present evidence that the 14-year-old’s 3-year-old brother made about what he heard the night of the attack.
“The statements implicate the kid’s sister as a murder accomplice,” said Gosch.
The 3-year-old, who is now about 12, told a female cousin in her teens that “mommy and daddy are mad,” that “mommy told (the 14-year-old) to stop,” and “help me,” said Gosch. These statements were made the day after the attack on May 20, 2003. The boy’s bedroom was located across the hall from his parents’ room.
Gosch said she wanted the cousin who heard the boy’s statements to testify.
“I’m trying to avoid putting a (12)-year-old child on the stand,” said Gosch.
Drobinski argued against allowing this evidence in at trial, calling it “double hearsay.”
“There isn’t a foundation that the child is referring to the events that happened as the attack was transpiring,” said Drobinski.
The cousin and boy may testify at Thursday’s hearing. Prosecutors said they would try to get them to attend.
Rogers took a plea deal in 2004 that got her a 30-year prison sentence for the attack. However, her plea was an Alford plea, meaning she did not acknowledge guilt for the crime.
She was granted a new trial after she served about seven and a half years of her sentence because it was ruled her previous attorney provided ineffective counsel for failing to investigate a jail corrections officer alleged to have passed messages between Rogers and McMeekin while they were in jail awaiting resolution to their cases.
Rogers is in custody at Lake County Jail in lieu of $4 million bond. McMeekin is in custody at Illinois Department of Corrections serving his 20-year sentence.