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Trials scheduled for 3 in fatal Christmas 2020 home invasion

By Mark Shenefelt - | Aug 5, 2022

BEN DORGER, Standard-Examiner file photo

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

OGDEN — The murder case against three people in a Christmas Day 2020 Riverdale home invasion will stretch into 2023 as attorneys debate the admissibility of incriminating statements the defendants made about each other.

Liam Gale, Rayburn Bennett Jr. and Brittany Ann Rogers are charged in the slaying of Trevor Anthony Martin, who fell dead at the base of his Christmas tree, having been shot multiple times, allegedly by Gale and Bennett. Martin’s girlfriend was shot in the jaw and critically injured. Rogers is accused of driving the getaway car.

Weber County Attorney’s Office prosecutors, defense attorneys and 2nd District Judge Camille Neider are working through a tangle of motions leading up to the scheduled trials: Rogers’ on April 10 next year; Bennett, May 8; and Gale, July 31.

Key preliminary matters include jousting over which statements to police by the defendants will be admitted at trial or prohibited; whether Bennett’s case may be transferred to juvenile court — he was 16 at the time; and whether Rogers may be granted bail pending her trial.

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.

In a hearing Tuesday, Neider set separate motion hearings for the three defendants, this fall for Bennett and Rogers and in February for Gale.

Bennett’s attorney, Taylor Hartley, asserted in a motion 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. Prosecutors, however, have presented an alternate interpretation, contending the case should stay in the adult court.

Rogers, meantime, has not been given constitutionally adequate consideration for being granted bail in the case, her attorney, Randall Marshall, said in a June 21 court document. Marshall said Rogers qualifies for a bail hearing because the case against her does not meet the threshold for automatic no-bail status.

Judge Joseph Bean ruled early in the case that Rogers would constitute a danger to the community if she were released. However, Marshall said, no hearing or rebuttal has been allowed.

“To merely rely upon a probable cause statement to make findings … would violate Brittany’s due process rights,” Marshall said.

According to a prosecutors’ outline of the incident, Martin’s girlfriend answered the door of their mobile home at 3 a.m. Gale and Bennett asked to see Martin. She feared they were there to rob Martin, and she tried to rebuff them. But Bennett, who reportedly did all the talking, allegedly barged in and past her and found Martin. He allegedly hit Martin on the head with a handgun, they fought for the firearm and Bennett allegedly shot him several times.

The girlfriend grabbed at Gale, saying they had children in the home. She begged him to stop. Gale broke free and allegedly shot Martin several more times, then ran out. Bennett followed him out, but he turned and shot the girlfriend, the charging documents alleged.

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