1979 Murder Trial: Guilty Verdict

UPDATED Wednesday, December 10, 2008 --- 5:20 p.m.

LADYSMITH, Wis. (AP) -- A jury has convicted a former Ladysmith man of murdering a 27-year-old college student nearly 30 years ago.

Rusk County court officials say a Douglas County jury deliberated about 35 minutes Wednesday afternoon before finding 56-year-old Harry "John" Rogers guilty of first-degree murder. The verdict came hours after Rogers took the witness stand.

Rogers was charged with the execution-style slaying of 27-year-old Robert Pfeil's in 1979. Prosecutors say the plot was masterminded by the defendant's brother, who was then district attorney, in a dispute over the killing of some of Pfeil's dogs.

No one was charged in the case until after a grand jury convened in 2004.

The trial came after Judge Frederick Henderson allowed Rogers to withdraw a no-contest plea.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, December 10, 2008 --- 4:55 p.m.

LADYSMITH, Wis. (AP) -- A jury has began deliberations in the trial a former Ladysmith man accused of murdering a 27-year-old college student nearly 30 years ago.

Rusk County court officials say 56-year-old Harry "John" Rogers took the stand in his own defense Wednesday before the jury from Douglas County was handed the case about 4 p.m. The trial began Monday.

Rogers is charged with first-degree murder in 27-year-old Robert Pfeil's 1979 shotgun slaying. Prosecutors say the plot was masterminded by the defendant's brother, who was then district attorney, in a dispute over the killing of some of Pfeil's dogs.

No one was charged in the case until after a grand jury convened in 2004.

Judge Frederick Henderson gave the jury the option of convicting Rogers on lesser charges.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, December 10, 2008 --- 1:00 p.m.

LADYSMITH, Wis. (AP) -- Rusk County court officials say testimony has ended in the trial of a former Ladysmith man accused of murdering a college student nearly 30 years ago.

Clerk of Court Renae Baxter says 56-year-old Harry "John" Rogers took the stand in his own defense Wednesday before attorneys huddled to discuss the final jury instructions.

Rogers is charged with murdering 27-year-old Robert Pfeil in 1979. Prosecutors say the plot was masterminded by the defendant's brother, who was then district attorney, in a dispute over the killing of some of Pfeil's dogs.

No one was charged in the case until after a grand jury was convened in 2004.

A jury from Douglas County is hearing the evidence after a judge ruled there was too much publicity about the case in Rusk County.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008 --- 8:15 a.m.

LADYSMITH, Wis. (AP) -- A prosecutor says the man accused of killing a college student near Ladysmith in 1979 is expected to take the witness stand in his own defense at his murder trial Wednesday.

Rusk County District Attorney Kathleen Pakes said 56-year-old Harry "John" Rogers is slated to be the final witness. She said 12 witnesses had testified through Tuesday.

Rogers is charged with murdering 27-year-old Robert Pfeil.

Prosecutors contended the crime was masterminded by the defendant's brother, who was then district attorney and feared Pfeil wanted to kill him and his family after deputies killed some of Pfeil's dogs. That brother later killed himself in California.

Charges were filed in 2004 after a grand jury was convened and new evidence found.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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