Ogden judge sentences man to life imprisonment in 2020 Riverdale murder
OGDEN — An Ogden judge has sentenced Liam Gale to live the rest of his life behind bars stemming from the Christmas Day murder of Trevor Martin three years ago.
“I’m astounded at the havoc you have wreaked on people in your family and people outside your family in your 34 years,” 2nd District Court Judge Camille Neider told Gale on Friday while sentencing him for the Dec. 25, 2020, killing.
In light of his criminal history, which included prior convictions for attempted aggravated robbery and robbery, she said the only way to make sure Gale doesn’t harm others would be to imprison him for life. She sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole for aggravated murder in the killing of Martin and 15 years to life in prison for attempted aggravated murder of Angela Rowley, Martin’s girlfriend.
Rowley, addressing the court prior to sentencing, blasted Gale, 34, calling him a “middle-aged punk.” She expressed disappointment he didn’t face capital punishment “because death is the only thing Liam deserves.”
Gale and Rayburn Bennett, 16 at at the time, stormed into the Riverdale mobile home Rowley and Martin shared in the early morning hours of Dec. 25, 2020, searching for Martin, ostensibly to rob him. Both Gale and Bennett fired on the man, killing him, while Bennett fired on Rowley as he fled, striking her in the jaw and seriously injuring her.
A jury found Gale guilty of seven charges he faced, including aggravated murder, after a trial that ended last August. Bennett, now 19, pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder in the case as part of a plea deal and was sentenced to 15 years to life imprisonment last May.
In light of the sentencing options facing Gale of life imprisonment without parole or the lesser sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment, Branden Miles, the Weber County prosecutor handling the case, asked for the harsher penalty. Imprisonment is “the only thing we’ve found to stop the defendant from doing harm to others,” Miles said, noting his criminal history.
Gale — who had recruited Bennett and was the driving force in the Riverdale assault, prosecutors say — didn’t speak during sentencing. But his lawyer, Grant Morrison, asked the judge not to impose a life sentence. “We’re asking for the opportunity for him to be given at least a little light at the end of the tunnel,” Morrison said.
Morrison acknowledged Gale’s long criminal history, which started when he was 13 years old. While rehabilitative efforts provided by the government over the years haven’t helped Gale, assistance from his sister when he lived with her as a teen did seem to have a positive effect. “I think Liam can be rehabilitated, take responsibility for his actions,” Morrison said.
In the end, Neider cited what have seemed to be Gale’s decisions not to accept help to better himself after prior run-ins with the law or to try to make amends over the 2020 incident, aside from the gravity of the Riverdale incident. Bennett, who admitted to his wrondoing and expressed remorse over his involvement, has been the “only man in this situation,” the judge said.
Brittany Rogers, Gale’s girlfriend, drove Gale and Bennett to and from Martin’s Riverdale home that evening. The woman, 34, was found guilty on several counts by a jury and sentenced last May to 15 years to life on the most serious charge, murder.
‘ANGRY AND SAD AND CHANGED’
After sentencing on Friday, Rowley, speaking with the Standard-Examiner, said she’s managing, all things considered. She has faced multiple surgeries to reconstruct her lower jaw, practically shot off in the 2020 incident.
“I think I’m doing, honestly, better than the girls. I think the girls, from this, have struggled a lot,” she said. Rowley’s daughter, then 12, and Martin’s three daughters from a prior relationship, ages 15, 12 and 8, were on hand at the Riverdale home when the violence occurred and it’s left a dark mark.
She said the girls are “100% different” from what they were like before the incident. “That night, they were innocent kids and when I woke up from the hospital and came home, they were completely different kids — angry and sad and changed,” Rowley said.
As Rowley described it, she and Martin were acquainted with Gale, but had only had limited contact with him. Gale’s girlfriend, Rogers, was best friends with Martin’s ex-wife, Rowley said, and Gale and Rogers lived with her for a time, which is how Rowley and Martin met Gale. Martin’s three daughters split time with him and their mother, and Martin and Rowley would sometimes encounter Gale when picking up or dropping off the girls.
Morrison, Gale’s lawyer, has said Gale and Bennett went to the Martin-Rowley household that Christmas Day in 2020 to rob it. Rowley was wrapping Christmas presents at the time.
Morrison has also maintained that Gale and Bennett didn’t get along. Rowley, though, contests that, saying the two men didn’t have any sort of running feud, though Martin had intervened at times to calm Gale when he and Rogers argued at his ex-wife’s home.
“Liam just hated Trevor. He was jealous of him, that’s all,” Rowley said. She said Martin had turned his life around after run-ins with the law years ago — which Morrison referenced during sentencing — and Gale “just wanted everything he had.”
Rowley addressed the limited ties with Gale in her comments during sentencing. “I hardly knew you and in 42 seconds you’ve ruined my whole life,” she said.
Later, Rowley’s mom, Candace Stoneking, who also spoke to the Standard-Examiner, said her daughter is making strides despite all she has faced. She is persevering, and support of family has helped.
“I’ve never seen such love, resiliency. … She’s going to be OK,” Stoneking said. She went on: “There are, I mean, horrible things that happened and there were heartfelt things that happened.”
It’s a process, though, and Rowley said she takes things one day at a time. “Maybe one day I can look in the mirror and be happy and not relive that night,” she said.
Morrison, Gale’s lawyer, said at the end of sentencing Friday that he intended to appeal the decision in the case.