By Thomasi McDonald
The News & Observer
RALEIGH — A Williamston man pleaded guilty Monday morning for leading police on a high-speed chase through three counties two years ago that ended when a state trooper was struck and killed.
Christopher McCoy Rodgers, 41, plead guilty to second-degree murder in a Nash County courtroom for the Sept. 8, 2012, death of veteran State Trooper Bobby "Gene" DeMuth Jr.
Rodgers will spend the next 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.
Nearly 18 of the 35-year sentence were for the crimes Rodgers was convicted of in Wake County last week.
Investigators say it was shortly after midnight when a Raleigh woman dialed 911 to report that Rodgers had forced his way into her home in the 5400 block of Morning Creek Way. Rodgers forcibly 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 vehicle.
Just after 7:30 a.m., a patrol officer saw Rodger's car near New Hope Road and Rogers Lane and attempted to stop it. Rodgers refused to stop and a pursuit ensued. Rodgers sped in the car 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.
State Highway Patrol Col. Billy Grey called the fallen trooper's death "senseless" and said justice was served with Rodgers' guilty plea.
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 stated in a State HighwayPatrol press statement. "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 State Highway Patrol for 12 years and was assigned to the Rocky Mount, Troop C District 1, Highway Patrol Office. 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.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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