Williamston man pleads guilty to killing North Carolina state trooper during chase

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJanuary 27, 2014 

Trooper Bobby Demuth

— A Williamston man will spend at least 35 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to killing a state trooper in Nash County during a high-speed chase in September 2012.

Christopher McCoy Rodgers, 41, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a Nash County courtroom for the death of Bobby “Gene” DeMuth Jr.

Rodgers was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison under what authorities described as a “combined plea agreement.” Last week, he pleaded guilty to several charges in Wake County, including first-degree kidnapping and common law robbery – crimes that preceded the chase.

Thirteen to 18 years of the sentence were for the crimes in Wake County.

Investigators say that shortly after midnight on Sept. 8, 2012, a Raleigh woman dialed 911 to report that Rodgers had forced his way into her home on Morning Creek Way, on the east side of Raleigh. Rodgers restrained the woman and her 21-month-old child and then barricaded them into a room before leaving. A short time later, the woman was able to free herself and fled to a friend’s home where she reported the crime.

Raleigh police obtained warrants charging Rodgers with burglary, common law robbery, two counts of kidnapping, assault on a female, assault on a child and obtaining property by false pretense. Officers were alerted to be on the lookout for Rodgers and his car.

Just after 7:30 a.m., a patrol officer saw Rodgers’ car near New Hope Road and Rogers Lane and attempted to stop it. Rodgers refused to stop and a pursuit ensued. Rodgers sped through Wake and Franklin counties before traveling into Nash County, where DeMuth was struck and killed while attempting to deploy stop sticks on U.S. 64 near Spring Hope.

Col. Billy Grey, commander of the State Highway Patrol, called DeMuth’s death senseless and said justice was served with Rodgers’ guilty plea.

“Gene died doing what he truly loved: protecting and serving the citizens of this great state,” Grey said in a statement. “We will forever be indebted for the sacrifice Gene made on that fateful day.”

DeMuth’s wife, Michelle, said while she was pleased with the plea agreement, there will never truly be closure for her husband’s death.

“There is no way to fill the enormous void that Gene’s death leaves in our family,” she said in a statement released by the Highway Patrol. “We will always long for his infectious smile, outgoing personality, love, and compassion. Our hearts are forever broken by his death, just as our lives are forever blessed by his life.”

DeMuth served with the Highway Patrol for 12 years and was based in Rocky Mount. Before joining the patrol, he was an officer with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles Enforcement Section. He is survived by his wife, 9-year-old son, mother, sister, brother, niece and two nephews.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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