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Published September 17, 2013, 03:06 PM

Fargo man pleads guilty to killing his wife

FARGO – With his murder trial less than a week away, the Fargo man accused of shooting his wife in the head and calling police to say she committed suicide pleaded guilty on Tuesday.

By: Kyle Potter, Forum News Service, INFORUM, Forum News Service

FARGO – With his murder trial less than a week away, the Fargo man accused of shooting his wife in the head and calling police to say she committed suicide pleaded guilty on Tuesday.

Ronald William Rogers Jr. was charged with a Class AA felony murder – the most grievous charge in North Dakota law – for the Feb. 19 killing of his wife, Elizabeth Rogers.

In changing his plea, Rogers will forego his trial, which was set to begin in Cass County District Court on Monday. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of willful disturbance of a body for tampering with his wife’s body to make it look like she had committed suicide.

Rogers will be sentenced in the next month or two after a presentence investigation is completed. He could face life in prison without parole.

He is being held on $1 million bail.

Asked what had changed since his client initially pleaded not guilty, defense attorney Ross Brandborg said: “Negotiations.”

Part of Rogers’ plea reversal allows him to appeal several of Judge Lisa Fair McEvers decisions to allow evidence, including his interview with police while Rogers was a patient at Prairie St. John’s psychiatric hospital in which he allegedly admitted to shooting his wife in the head.

Brandborg tried unsuccessfully to have that interview thrown out, arguing that Rogers was in custody during the police interview but hadn’t been given the required Miranda warning.

If an appeal is successful, Brandborg said it could result in a new trial or possibly change his client’s eventual sentence.

“You could be looking at anything. It’s really too early to tell,” he said.

Rogers initially told police that his wife had committed suicide on Feb. 19 by shooting herself in the head using her right hand. Investigators didn’t consider him a suspect in her death until the autopsy showed the bullet entered through the left side of her head, prosecutors said in pretrial motions.

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