2 involved in Christmas Day killing in Riverdale convicted, third suspect awaits trial
OGDEN — One of the suspects in the Christmas Day killing of a Riverdale man in 2020 has been found guilty in the case following a jury trial and another has pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal.
The third and final suspect is to go on trial over the summer.
Trevor Martin, 36, was shot several times in the early morning home invasion at his Riverdale mobile home park residence on Dec. 25, 2020, and died of the injuries. His girlfriend — wrapping Christmas presents before the invasion unfolded — was shot and critically wounded in the incident, though she survived.
Liam Gale of Roy and Rayburn Bennett of West Valley City forced their way into Martin’s home to rob him, according to original charging documents. Gale told police soon after his arrest that he had a “prior conflict” with the victim, according to documents in the court file.
Brittany Rogers of Clearfield drove Gale and Bennett to the Riverdale home, was aware of the robbery plans, officials charged, and served as driver of the getaway vehicle after the 2020 incident.
Bennett, 16 when the incident occurred and now 19, pleaded guilty on March 24 as part of a plea deal to murder, reduced from aggravated murder, and attempted aggravated murder in the matter. Both are first-degree felonies. Three other felony charges were dismissed — aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and obstructing justice. He is to be sentenced on Friday.
Rogers’ case went to trial last month, and the jury subsequently found her guilty on April 14 of all five felony counts she faced — murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and obstructing justice. The woman, now 33, is to be sentenced May 30.
Gale, now 34, faces numerous felony counts, including aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, all with a potential habitual offender enhancement. He faces a fifth felony obstructing justice charge and two additional felony counts of possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person. His case is to go to trial later this summer, in late July and early August.
According to Bennett’s plea agreement, money was the motivation for the robbery attempt and he entered the home armed with a handgun.
Bennett “confessed to forcing his way into the home where he struck Trevor Martin with the gun, engaged in a physical struggle with him and then ultimately shot Trevor, who later died from his injuries,” reads the plea agreement. “Rayburn also admitted to shooting the female … who suffered severe bodily injury to her lower-face as he attempted to flee.”
Gale was also armed and also allegedly fired a gun at Martin, according to court documents.
At issue at sentencing for Bennett will be whether he faces consecutive or concurrent sentences on the varied charges, among other things.
The sentencing memorandum filed by Weber County prosecutors last week calls Bennett “the primary actor in causing death and serious harm” in the case and notes the serious, disfiguring injuries suffered by Martin’s girlfriend. But it also says Bennett was “heavily influenced by adults almost twice his age,” Gale and Rogers.
“Brittany Rogers had children his same age and did nothing to stop this from happening or protect him from Liam Gale,” reads the May 11 memo. “Rayburn Bennett did not know Trevor Martin or (his girlfriend) prior to the events in this case. He had no direct motive or animus against them. He only became involved in these events at the request and direction of Liam Gale — a convicted violent felon. He described in his testimony how Liam Gale put continual pressure on him to commit this offense that began well before Christmas 2020.”
In the sentencing memorandum filed by Bennett’s attorney Taylor Hartley, Hartley asks that the sentences on the varied counts that his client faces be served concurrently, not consecutively. Among other things, Hartley notes the “negative influence and pressures” of Gale.
“Without Mr. Gale’s planning of the case, drugging of (Bennett), who was a ‘child’ legally, to ‘pump’ him up for the crime, and pressuring him into going through with the burglary, (Bennett) wouldn’t have killed Mr. Martin,” Hartley wrote. “He wouldn’t have shot (Martin’s girlfriend). He wouldn’t have been at the home. But, (Bennett) did those things and he’s paying for it emotionally and legally.”