Rogers' family still seeking closure
HAPPIER TIMES Kenny Rogers remembers better days when he and his wife, Brenda, spent their time with their children and grandchildren and working on their land. Brenda was slain Oct. 3, 2000, as she delivered mail on her Bailey route. The case has since met with a number of delays. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 28, 2001
As the family of Brenda Rogers prepares for another holiday without her, the capital murder trial of the man accused in her death remains lost in paperwork, motions and continuances.
In the Martin home the couple shared for more than 30 years, Kenny looked at family photographs still hanging on the walls as his wife left them. On a table sits the couple's untouched wedding photo, and along the hallway are pictures of happier times mostly Brenda and Kenny with their children and grandchildren.
It has been 14 months since Brenda was slain in a Kemper County home. A letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, Brenda was delivering mail on Oct. 3, 2000, when she met her accused killer, Michael D. Sims.
Neighbors along the rural dirt road heard Brenda's screams and witnessed her abduction. She was taken to a home that had just been burglarized and shot nine times, allegedly for the gas in her car.
Authorities said they believe Sims and his alleged accomplice, Thaddeus Brown, who has since pleaded guilty to carjacking resulting in death, ran out of gas after burglarizing the home.
Kenny said he will push prosecutors to try Sims for capital punishment in the killing, although he is pessimistic the case will ever go to trial.
Brenda's parents said they desperately want closure for their family, and they believe a conclusion in the case will bring that about.
Her father, Al Barber of Collinsville, said, "I don't want to dwell on it, but if they can get it put off … it's going to give people a chance to forget about it, and I wonder if that's part of it.
The man prosecuting the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Woody Bond, said in August that he would seek permission from the U.S. Justice Department to try Sims on capital charges. If tried as a capital murder case, Sims could face the death penalty.
The original trial date had been set for March 5 this year, was delayed until June 4 and was delayed again until September. Nothing happened in September; the case since has fallen into limbo.
Both Sims and Thaddeus Brown, his alleged accomplice, remain in a federal penitentiary.
According to federal records, the last activity on the case was in June when a judicial order was entered by U.S. District Judge Tom Lee, telling Sims that if he was going to plead guilty he needed to do so by August 17.
That month passed with no word from Sims.
August was also the date set for Brown's sentencing, but that action was postponed with no other sentencing date set.
Officials said the delays in Sims' case were based on a defense attorney's health problems, a lack of knowledge in handling the case because it is rare, the pending return of a psychiatric evaluation and a pending capital punishment decision from the Justice Department which has since been inundated with Sept. 11 activity.
Kenny said he is puzzled by the delays in a case in which arrests were made 72 hours after Rogers' body was discovered and which was announced to have sufficient evidence for a conviction.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.