RALEIGH — A Williamston man who led law enforcement officers on a 2012 high-speed chase that ended the life of a state Highway Patrol trooper pleaded guilty on Wednesday to Wake County crimes that prosecutors said started the three-county pursuit.
Christopher McCoy Rodgers, 41, pleaded guilty in Wake County Superior Court to first-degree burglary, common law robbery and two counts of first-degree kidnapping as part of an agreement with prosecutors in two counties.
Under the arrangement, Rodgers also plans to plead guilty next week in Nash County to second-degree murder in the Sept. 8, 2012, death of Trooper Gene DeMuth.
If Rogers follows through with the plea in Nash County, he will be sentenced to at least 35 years in prison, with nearly 18 of those years a result of the crimes he pleaded guilty to in Wake County.
DeMuth was killed while putting stop sticks out on U.S. 64 in an effort to puncture the tires of the Nissan that Rodgers was driving. Though DeMuth was pronounced dead at the scene, Rodgers continued until the car he drove during the 20-mile, 30-minute chase crashed into a tree.
The incident began in Wake County not long after Rodgers ex-girlfriend reported that he had forced his way into her home in the 5400 block of Morning Creek Way. The woman reported being forcibly restrained and then barricaded into a room with her 21-month-old child.
According to court testimony, Rodgers left in a crack-induced rage and the woman fled to a friends home, where she called police. Investigators later discovered that the womans debit card was used in the 800 block of South New Hope Road in Raleigh. Raleigh police obtained arrest warrants for burglary, common-law robbery, obtaining property by false pretenses, assault on a female, assault on a child and two counts of kidnapping.
Shortly after 7:30 a.m., a Raleigh police officer saw Rodgers car around New Hope Road and Rogers Lane. The officer fell in behind him eastbound on U.S. 264 Bypass and requested backup units before he tried to pull the car over.
Once the backup arrived, the officers tried to stop Rodgers near the intersection of U.S. 64 and U.S. 264 near Wendell. Rodgers refused to pull over, and the chase was on, according to police reports.
DeMuth, a 12-year veteran of the N.C. Highway Patrol and a former Marine who left behind a wife and son, was stationed at Rocky Mount, Troop C District 1 Highway Patrol Office.
Many of his fellow troopers were at the Wednesday hearing.
Rodgers offered a tearful apology to the DeMuth family.
Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1