Court date for Rogers is delayed
There is an old expression that “the wheels of justice move slowly.” Because Tenth Judicial Circuit Judge Sam Pope recused himself from her case, Stephanie Lynn Hill Rogers wasn’t in court as scheduled Monday morning.
Instead, she’ll make an appearance at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 8 in front of new Circuit Judge Quincey Ross to answer information against her at an arraignment hearing. Her attorney, Patrick Benca of Little Rock, has also filed a motion for bond reduction, which will also be addressed at that time.
Rogers, the longtime president of the Monticello Youth Soccer Association and the wife of former Monticello Mayor Joe Rogers, was arrested and accused of conspiracy to commit capital murder and solicitation to commit capital murder, both Class A felonies, in October 2018. In December 2018, Tenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen filed formal charges of two counts of first-degree murder solicitation against Stephanie Rogers.
According to court records, she is charged with requesting or urging a third party “to engage in specific conduct to cause the purposeful death” of both Joe Rogers and his ex-wife, Debbie Rogers, sometime between Sept. 12, 2018 and Oct. 18, 2018. If convicted, Stephanie Rogers could face not less than six nor more than 30 years in prison and a fine not exceeding $15,000 for each Class A felony charge.
Both Pope and Circuit Judge Bynum Gibson, who between the two of them, normally hear all the criminal cases in Drew County recused themselves from the case. Gibson did not say specifically why he bowed out but assumptions are because the judge, who lives in Monticello, knows one or more of the parties in the case. Pope and Stephanie Rogers’ father are in the same Sunday school class, according to papers he filed with the Circuit Court.
Thus, the court had to draw a name among the remaining judges. Ross’ name was drawn, and he agreed to take the case. In view of the fact that District Judge Bruce Anderson set a $500,000 commercial bond only for Rogers at her first court appearance in October 2018 at the Bradley County Courthouse in Warren, she remains in the Drew County Detention Facility. Should her bond be reduced on Feb. 8 and she bond out of jail, Anderson also instructed Rogers to have no contact with four people, including Joe and Debbie Rogers.
Among those who were present Monday, though, was former Drew County Fair Board treasurer Brenda Reed, who was arrested in May 2018 on charges of theft of property more than $2,500. Raymond Chisom, president of the Fair Board, had contacted the Arkansas State Police on Nov. 2, 2017 in reference to the possible theft.
According to an affidavit for warrant of Reed’s arrest, statements obtained from both Commercial Bank and Union Bank showed that checks were written for cash and endorsed by Reed in excess of $37,000. The estimated total amount of money that was allegedly stolen by Reed was about $167,000.
On March 15, 2018, Reed was interviewed about the theft of monies. According to court documents, she admitted that over the past several years as treasurer, she took money from the Fair Board accounts to pay her personal bills—as well as her son, Brison Reed’s business bills for B&M Land Management.
According to court documents, Reed used the Fair Board accounts to funnel money in the amount of approximately $39,843. In her interview, Reed told officers she could not remember where all the monies went or exactly how much she took.
Reed bonded out of jail the same day she was arrested. Pope set her court date as sometime between Feb. 12 and 14, provided there is not a plea agreement reached before that time. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Frank Spain told Pope in court Monday he is talking to the Fair Board to get their input on a deal, but did not specify what was in the plea agreement.
Also Monday, Armando Romero—like Stephanie Rogers an MYSA board member—appeared before Pope, charged of domestic battering III with physical injury to a pregnant woman. His pre-trial hearing was set for May 28 and his trial date for sometime between June 18 and 21.
According to court records, Romero’s incident allegedly took place on or around Sept. 25, 2018 at his residence. The records show the Monticello Police Department was called to Drew Memorial Health System to take a report from the alleged victim. She described the alleged physical confrontation and showed the officers the marks, bruises and other evidence that were left afterwards, allegedly from Romero. His bond was set at $15,000.
Romero has a previous arrest record. On or about March 4, 2016, Romero was arrested at the same residence for domestic battery third degree and other related charges, including resisting arrest.
According to court documents, Romero choked a female and knocked her to the ground, before kicking her in the stomach and back repeatedly. The court gave him one year probation and a fine at that time. He completed his community service by doing 40 hours of community service with MYSA.
On Dec. 18, 2016, Romero was taken back into custody by ASP for a driving while intoxicated and other driving charges, committed on Bolling Street in Monticello, according to police.