Sandra Rogers convinced her 17-year-old lover to help her in the 2003 sledgehammer attack of her ex-husband and his new wife by threatening to tell his 14-year-old girlfriend – her daughter – about their affair, the now-26-year-old man testified Monday at Rogers’ trial in Lake County.
Jonathan McMeekin testified that the woman he referred to as “Sandy” allowed him to move into her home – and sleep in the same bed as her daughter Robin – when Robin was 13. He said Sandra Rogers bought him gifts including football cleats; let him use her car, though he didn’t have a license; took him out to dinner; and bought him marijuana.
“She would cook for me, clean, do my laundry, give me lunch money, those kinds of things,” McMeekin said. “She told me that I owed her.”
Nearly a decade after he pleaded guilty to attempted murder for his part in the near-fatal attack in Lincolnshire, McMeekin was on the stand Monday as a witness against Rogers, now 56. Rogers had also pleaded guilty in 2004 to the attack the previous year, but she was allowed to retract her guilty plea and stand trial in the case.
Authorities assert that McMeekin and Rogers drove together to her ex-husband's home in the middle of the night on May 19, 2003, broke in and surprised the couple in bed. Rogers struck both of them over the head multiple times with a sledgehammer, nearly killing the couple, prosecutors say.
Rogers’ lawyers have attempted to show that the it was Robin Rogers who participated in the attack with McMeekin, not her mother. They have cited statements that Robin Rogers made about wanting to kill her father; she denied that those comments were serious, and prosecutors chalked them up to harmless teenage rebellion.
In his testimony, McMeekin said Sandra Rogers had her own motives: She was distraught over her ex-husband regaining custody of their two daughters, and child support payments had stopped, McMeekin said Monday. Also, Sandra Rogers told McMeekin she feared she was going to be arrested because she allowed her daughter to continue to see McMeekin against her father’s wishes, he testified.
McMeekin said he smoked pot and drank eight to 12 beers before Rogers told her of his plan.
“She started talking about how she didn’t want to be arrested the next day,” he said. “She started talking about Rick, how she wanted to kill him. She said if I didn’t go with her, she would tell Robin that we had sex together.”
McMeekin testified that, after the pair arrived at her ex-husband Rick Rogers’ townhome that night, Sandra Rogers pulled out two ski masks from behind the seat, McMeekin said. She also pulled out a sledgehammer and tried to hand it to McMeekin, but he refused to take it, he said.
McMeekin took the stand Monday dressed in a navy blue prison jumpsuit, his legs shackled. He had initially told police that he acted alone and, after giving a detailed statement, led police to a river near the beaten couple's home, where a hammer and bloody clothing belonging to McMeekin were found. Several months later, McMeekin told police that Sandra Rogers orchestrated the attack and wielded the hammer.
Also taking the stand Monday was Rick Rogers’ wife Angela Gloria, who said she remembered going to bed at about 9:30 or 10 p.m. on the night of the attack. The next thing the now-46-year-old woman remembered is waking up in a hospital and talking to her priest.
“I called myself Peanuthead,” said Gloria, who still has visible scars on her face from the attack. “I had an indent on the side of my head. I looked like Frankenstein.”
Gloria’s speech is labored and halting, and she said her short-term memory is damaged. She had to re-learn how to walk, she said.
McMeekin is expected to continue testifying Tuesday.