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Gunman in Christmas Day killing gets two concurrent 15-year sentences

By Tim Vandenack - | May 19, 2023

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The 2nd District Court building in Ogden, photographed Friday, May 19, 2023.

OGDEN — The then-16-year-old gunman in the 2020 Christmas Day killing of Trevor Martin at his home in Riverdale has been sentenced to 15 years to life imprisonment on each of the two counts he pleaded guilty to.

Rayburn Bennett, now 19, appeared for sentencing on Friday before 2nd District Court Judge Camille Neider, who handed down the sentence on the murder and attempted aggravated murder counts. Bennett — also sentenced in the shooting of Martin’s girlfriend, Angela Rowley, seriously injured in the Dec. 25, 2020, incident — will remain in a juvenile facility until he’s 25 then transfer to a prison for adults.

Brittany Rogers, found guilty by a jury last month on five counts in the case, including murder, is to be sentenced on May 30. The third defendant, Liam Gale, facing aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and several other charges, is to go on trial later in the summer.

As Bennett sought, Neider ordered his sentences to be served concurrently, not consecutively, in recognition of the remorse he has expressed and other mitigating circumstances. He testified for the prosecution in Rogers’ trial.

“I think that your track record for the last two years and four months, five months, is a good indication of how hard you’re going to work,” she said. Nevertheless, she doesn’t suspect he’d be granted parole until he’s in his 40s at the earliest, she said.

Bennett addressed Rowley, her family and family members of Martin, sitting in the audience in the Ogden courtroom.

“I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” he said in a quiet voice, facing them. He went on: “I’m ready to do whatever time, however long it takes for justice for Trevor Martin and Angela Rowley.”

Martin, 36, was shot several times by Bennett in the early morning home invasion at his Riverdale mobile home park residence and died of the injuries. Rowley — wrapping Christmas presents before the invasion unfolded — was shot in the face by Bennett, suffering severe injuries to her jaw that have required continuing medical care.

“I was happy. I was in love and I was loved,” Rowley testified ahead of sentencing, describing her life before the deadly Christmas Day incident. Now that has all changed, and, in addition to the anxiety, depression and fear that constantly grip her, she said, her children and Trevor’s children have their own issues to grapple with.

Rowley recently met with Bennett to try to understand what happened and said others have advised her to try to forgive him. She has tried, she said, “but I’m just not ready yet.”

Martin’s uncle, Christopher Walker, also addressed the court, reading a letter written by Diana Walker, Martin’s aunt.

The incident “devastated an entire family and destroyed Christmas forever,” Christopher Walker said. “Christmas is just another day of death, hate and despair.”

Original charging documents said the intent of the home invasion was robbery. Gale and Martin were acquainted. But Bennett’s lawyer, Taylor Hartley, said Gale — the alleged driving force in the incident — plotted the invasion as a means to kill Martin, citing earlier testimony in the case. Gale also plied Bennett with cocaine ahead of the incident.

In arguing for concurrent sentences, Hartley, like prosecutors, has said Bennett, just 16 at the time, was influenced and manipulated by Gale, now 34, and Rogers, now 33. Bennett pleaded guilty in the case as part of a plea deal.

Hartley also noted the dysfunctional circumstances in Bennett’s household growing up. He said Bennett developed feelings of guilt that he was responsible for alleged physical and sexual abuse by his stepfather, along with depression, anxiety and more.

While not meaning to justify Bennett’s violence, he also said his client remains shaken by what happened. “He is haunted by what he did. … He’s dealing with the trauma he caused. It traumatized him, too,” Hartley said.


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