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'He Was Never Going to Harm My Daughter Again'

Md. Woman Freed in Husband's Killing Describes Life of Abuse

By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 12, 2004; Page B01

Laura Rogers remembers reaching under the bed where her husband slept, groping for the shotgun. She had been awake all night.

She remembers carrying the 20-gauge into the living room, where she had been ignoring the television for hours. She snapped it open, slipped a shell into its chamber. Back in the bedroom, she saw her 43-year-old husband, Walter Rogers, asleep on his right side.

Laura Rogers says her marriage became a life of "terror and fear" that left her with no choice but to kill her husband. (Katherine Frey - The Washington Post)

_____From The Post_____
Arundel Judge Frees Woman In Death of 'Horrible' Man (The Washington Post, Nov 10, 2004)

The sun was not yet up.

Laura Rogers does not remember holding the shotgun less than a foot from her husband's face, aiming it toward his left eye. She does not remember pulling the trigger.

"I remember hearing the gun go off, and running, and saying, 'What the hell have I done?' " she recalled in an interview this week.

Six months after she killed her husband, Laura Rogers, 36, was released Tuesday from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.

She had been charged with first-degree murder, an offense punishable by life in prison, but she had pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Hackner sentenced her to 10 years in prison, the maximum term for that offense, but suspended all but the 198 days she already had spent in jail since her arrest. Hackner said he was convinced by a diagnosis that she suffered from battered spouse syndrome. And he called her husband, the victim, "a horrible human being."

The state did not oppose the outcome. This was a murder case that prosecutors never wanted to put in front of a jury.

It's an old story: a self-described battered wife killing the man she says tormented her. Laura Rogers was by no means the first woman to end years of alleged abuse by squeezing a trigger in the night. But seldom does the justice system agree that the husband probably had it coming. Seldom does the system effectively excuse a homicide and send the wife home.

This was no ordinary case, though.

For one thing, there was the psychological well-being of a 17-year-old girl to think about.

And there was the videotape.

The horrible videotape.

A Death in the Family

Laura Rogers described the slaying and the circumstances surrounding it in an interview Wednesday, the day after she got out of jail. As she spoke, she sat at a long conference table in the office of her attorney, Clarke F. Ahlers, her hands clasped in front of her.

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