Sacramento Superior Court jurors listened to nearly a month of testimony, then took fewer than two hours Tuesday to convict Victor Rodgers of murder in the 2012 ambush killing of Kerry Ray Burns outside an Arden Arcade-area home.
Rodgers was 19 when he fired the fatal shots that killed Burns, 27, targeted at twilight May 22, 2012, outside his mother’s Wyda Way home as his wife watched from behind a screen door. Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Asker argued that Rodgers, who ran a bank fraud scheme with Burns and another man, was angry with Burns over money from the illicit operation and a looming investigation by one of the cheated banks in the days before the shooting.
Rodgers eluded a murder conviction months ago in Sacramento Superior Court when an earlier jury in January failed to reach a verdict in Burns’ killing after weeks of deliberation.
In Rodgers’ December, 2014 murder trial and again at last month’s proceedings, Rodgers’ defense claimed duplicitous detectives lied to and threatened witnesses with long prison sentences if they didn’t produce statements that would lead to an arrest in the case. Lies from witnesses and Rodgers himself, who defense attorney Michael Long said fabricated a self-defense tale in the killing to protect his younger brother from a prison sentence, followed. All, Long said were part of a “vast web of lies told by police and by witnesses” in the case.
But transcripts of cellphone and text messages to a girlfriend and to Burns days before the shooting, as well as videos of investigators’ interrogations that showed a tearful Rodgers appearing to confess to the killing, sealed Rodgers’ fate.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 7 before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Robert Twiss.
Sheila Burns, Kerry Burns’ widow and a constant presence at both trials, took the stand briefly during trial to describe her husband’s final moments.
During a break from closing arguments on Monday, Burns reflected on life without her husband.
Kerry Burns, Sheila said, was “my whole life. He died right in front of me. He has five kids by me. Now they have to go the rest of their life without their dad,” she said. “I ask myself, ‘What do I have to do to get him back.’ ”