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Defense seeks separate trial for teen suspect in Christmas Day fatal shooting

By Mark Shenefelt - | Apr 1, 2022

BEN DORGER, Standard-Examiner file photo

The 2nd District Court is seen on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in downtown Ogden.

OGDEN — A defense attorney says his teenage client, one of three people facing murder charges in a fatal home invasion robbery in Riverdale on Christmas Day 2020, should have a separate trial.

Meanwhile, amended charging documents provide more details of the crime, which left a man dead and his girlfriend with critical injuries.

Taylor Hartley represents Rayburn Bennett Jr., who was 16 when he and Liam Gale allegedly burst into the home of Trevor Anthony Martin and his girlfriend. Martin was shot to death and the woman critically injured. Hartley filed a motion in 2nd District Court on Wednesday arguing that Bennett’s case should be transferred to juvenile court or that alternatively his case should be separated from the trial of Gale, 33, and Brittany Ann Rogers, 32.

Hartley asserted that Bennett’s case should go to juvenile court because prosecutors have not alleged that Bennett was the principal actor in the events. Hartley said state law outlines that in such a case, a 16- or 17-year-old arrestee should not be charged with aggravated murder in district court.

If the case does go to trial in district court along with the other defendants’, Bennett deserves a separate trial in fairness to his juvenile status, Hartley said.

“Due to his age, Mr. Bennett was likely pressured and manipulated into participating in a violent crime,” Hartley’s motion said. He said Bennett’s “knowledge, intent, motivations, actions, and defenses must be seen in light of his age, which can only be adequately addressed in a trial of his own where a jury is not also multitasking with weighing any of the codefendant’s defenses.”

In updated charging documents, the Weber County Attorney’s Office shed more light on what happened inside Martin’s mobile home at 3 a.m. Christmas morning.

In the charges against Gale, prosecutors say Gale admitted in a police interview that he had Rogers drive him and Bennett to Martin’s home, where he allegedly planned to rob Martin.

Gale allegedly said he and Bennett forced their way into the home, and during a fight with the occupants he tried to hit the woman with his handgun, but the firearm went off accidentally. The bullet struck the woman in the jaw.

According to the documents, Gale said he turned and saw Martin and Bennett fighting, then he fired several shots at Martin. He allegedly said he took a second firearm from Bennett and shot Martin several more times.

The updated charges against Rogers allege that she admitted to police that she agreed to drive Gale and Bennett to Martin’s home and that the two planned to rob the homeowner. The documents said she admitted driving the other two away from the shooting scene, that one of the suspects threw clothing out of a window during the drive, and that the three transferred to another car in a parking lot and continued to drive away.

According to the updated charges against Bennett, Rogers told police she knew him only as “Sonny.” Later, she was shown a photo of Bennett and confirmed it was of “Sonny.”

The documents said Bennett allegedly admitted knocking on Martin’s door, forcing entry and shooting at both residents. He also allegedly admitted disposing of his clothing in a fire pit at his home.

Police said they found a handgun tactical light attachment at the shooting scene and that they later found on Bennett’s Facebook page a photo of a firearm with a matching tactical light.

All three suspects are charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and obstructing justice. The two men are charged with aggravated murder and Rogers is charged with murder, a non-death-penalty offense. Gale also faces two weapons charges.

No trial dates have been set.

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