Judge reduces assault charge to misdemeanor
The jury deadlocked in its decision over whether a Georgetown man shot in his own home by a state trooper was guilty of assault and resisting arrest.
Michael W. Rogers, 53, left the courthouse relieved after the jury returned its decision June 27 after deliberating for about a day.
“It’s better than guilty,” said the smiling defendant after the week-long trial in Sussex County Superior Court before Judge T. Henley Graves.
“But I would hate to have to go through it again,” Rogers said.
Rogers was charged with third-degree assault and resisting arrest following a scuffle with a police officer at his home Aug. 1, 2013. Rogers and his mother, Lorraine, both testified that Trooper Matthew Morgan came to their home at 10 p.m. to investigate a traffic accident that had occurred earlier at a nearby bar. The $89 inattentive driving ticket Morgan said he intended to issue was never filed; Rogers and his mother both said Morgan instigated a fight. Morgan testified he feared for his life and shot at Rogers; Rogers testified he was attempting to defend himself but was shot five times and grazed by a sixth bullet. One bullet remains in him.
Defense Attorney Steve Norman said Graves announced the jury was hopelessly deadlocked before releasing the panel. Norman also said Lorraine told him she saw about six jurors smile at Rogers after Graves announced his decision.
Deputy Attorney General David Hume could not be reached for comment; Norman said there was no indication the prosecution will move forward with another trial. Rogers remains charged with third-degree assault of a police officer, a misdemeanor, and resisting arrest. The state originally charged Rogers with second-degree assault of a police officer, but Graves dropped the charge because the state did not prove all the necessary elements – specifically, an officer serving in official capacity during the incident.
Jason Miller, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said prosecutors should make a decision within several weeks whether they intend to pursue another trial. If the state decides not to retry Rogers, Miller said, the charges would be dropped or in court terms, nolle prossed.
Norman said he’s pleased with the outcome, even though it is not completely over.
“I think it’s a positive,” Norman said. “Obviously we would’ve loved to see an acquittal.”