Tuesday, April 12, 2005

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — Defense attorneys said yesterday that two brothers accused in a 1979 slaying will cooperate with authorities and tell what they know about the plot purportedly hatched by a third brother — who was county prosecutor at the time.

Dale A. Rogers, 46, of Sheldon, Wis., has spoken to police about what happened and Harry “John” Rogers, 52, of rural Ladysmith, Wis., plans to do the same, the defense attorneys said.

They were arrested last week and charged with first-degree murder in the execution-style slaying of college student Robert Pfeil Jr. John Rogers is the suspected triggerman.

Despite efforts by Mr. Pfeil’s family, the case had languished for a quarter-century before a secret grand jury developed new evidence.

“There are pieces of the puzzle that we don’t have and the only person who can give those pieces is John Rogers,” District Attorney Kathleen Pakes said.

Their brother, Robert Rogers, resigned as district attorney in 1980 and committed suicide in 1984 after a second, unrelated killing.

In the Pfeil case, Robert Rogers “didn’t pulled the trigger, but he was certainly responsible,” Miss Pakes told Judge Frederick Henderson yesterday.

Another brother, Mike Rogers, who gave law-enforcement officials statements about his role, will not be charged, Miss Pakes said.

Steven Gibbs, the attorney for John Rogers, said his client would meet with law-enforcement officials “in return for some considerations. We are cooperating to get the truth out.”

Mr. Pfeil, 27, died from shotgun wounds to the back of his head Aug. 14, 1979, near his rural Ladysmith home. There was no evidence of a struggle.

According to a criminal complaint filed Friday, Robert Rogers feared Mr. Pfeil was out to harm him because police had killed Mr. Pfeil’s three dogs two months earlier.

Mike Rogers told police he and Dale Rogers hid in some weeds while John Rogers fatally shot Mr. Pfeil, according to the criminal complaint. He said that Robert Rogers had asked him and Dale Rogers to accompany John Rogers.

According to the criminal complaint, Robert Rogers was a “person of interest” immediately in the Pfeil killing because investigators quickly learned of Mr. Pfeil’s anger over the killing of the dogs.

But Robert Rogers resigned as Rusk County district attorney less than a year after Mr. Pfeil’s death, and Mr. Pfeil’s shooting case lay in the unsolved file.

The former prosecutor moved with his wife, Cherie Barnard, to Truckee, Calif., where Robert Rogers set up a practice. In 1984, Robert Rogers killed dance club owner Gary Grady, 29, after learning he had been involved with Mrs. Barnard. Robert Rogers, 38, then committed suicide on his 28-foot boat by shooting himself in the chest.

Miss Pakes vowed to investigate the case thoroughly after she was elected the county’s top prosecutor in 2000.

“It is a very weird case,” the prosecutor said. “We have put a lot of work into it over the last four years.”

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