- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) - With prosecutors asking that serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers be sentenced to death for a fourth time, defense attorneys on Friday asked jurors to give him life in prison to bring final resolution to a three-decades-old legal process.

Rogers has been sentenced to death three times, and each time the sentence has been overturned on various legal grounds.

One of Oregon’s most prolific serial killers, Rogers tortured and killed several women in the 1980s, binding some of them, stabbing them repeatedly and in several cases cutting off their feet or other body parts.

Now 62, quiet and balding, the former lawn-mower repairman was dubbed the Molalla Forest Killer because the bodies were discovered in a forest in the small town of Molalla.

During Rogers’ current sentencing trial in Clackamas County Circuit Court, defense attorney Richard L. Wolf said Rogers would waive his right to an appeal if he got a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Wolf said sending Rogers to prison for life would give a resolution to victims’ families and avoid the costs of further legal proceedings. If Rogers is sentenced to death, Wolf said, various appeals could take up another 30 years, cost about $3 million and continue to drag families into court.

“We stand before you today not to deny or excuse Mr. Rogers’ crimes,” Wolf told the jury. “We’re asking you… to stop the endless courtroom proceedings and permit (the families) to finally move forward, rather than seemingly move forward then backward… stuck in a never-ending cycle of trial and automatic appeal.”

Wolf said Rogers had only four minor infractions during the past 27 years in prison. His age means he’s less prone to violence. And the possibility he’ll be a victim in prison is much greater than that of him victimizing others.

Wolf also argued Rogers’ traumatic childhood - including sexual and physical abuse - and the brain damage he suffered should be considered as mitigating evidence.

Prosecutor Bryan Brock said Rogers should get the death penalty because his acts were heinous and deliberate. He carefully planned his attacks and was driven by sexual gratification from inflicting pain, Brock said.

Rogers was a “patient and cunning individual” who lived a double life, Brock said. On one hand, he had a wife, son, owned a house in Woodburn, attended church and ran a successful small business. On the other, he drove to Portland to solicit prostitutes, plied them with alcohol, and took them to remote locations where he tied them up, violently bit them and cut them.

The more the women screamed, Brock said, the more violent Rogers became. Those who fought and resisted were killed and had their feet cut off while still alive, said Brock, who during closing arguments showed the jury a hacksaw recovered from Rogers.

“Violence equals pleasure. He cut off their feet for his pleasure,” said Brock, adding that Rogers later burned the dead women’s clothes in his stove and cleaned out his blood-soaked truck.

Brock said Rogers, who has spent most of the past 27 years in prison segregation, was a sexual sadist unfit to live in the general prison population and called his nearly upstanding prison record a facade.

“The next victim could be an inmate who doesn’t want to snitch, or his cellmate … it’s a risk we cannot take,” Brock said. “The death penalty is and should be deserved for the worst of the worst. And I believe in this case it is warranted.”

Rogers was convicted of six killings in 1989, and each of three juries has sentenced him to death. Rogers also was tied to the slaying of a woman identified in 2013 and sentenced to life in prison for the stabbing death of a woman outside a Portland restaurant in 1987.

The state Supreme Court struck down Rogers’ death sentences in 1992, 2000 and 2012. The first time was to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated Oregon’s death penalty law.

In 2000, the Oregon high court ruled that the jury incorrectly considered only the options of death and life in prison with the possibility of parole. There should have been a third choice: life without the chance of parole.

In 2012, the justices said jury selection was done improperly and the judge incorrectly allowed evidence of Rogers’ gay experiences as a teenager.

The jury in the current case was sent home Friday evening and scheduled to return to court on Monday morning.

Whatever the outcome, there will be no executions in Oregon anytime soon. Oregon’s past two governors have placed a moratorium on them, and the state has not executed anyone since 1997.

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