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Man gets life for murder
Jury spares killer's life.

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Date published: 9/2/2006

By KEITH EPPS

A jury yesterday spared the life of convicted killer John J. "Jose" Rogers.

The jury decided that Rogers, 37, will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing Lisa Madaris in Stafford County last year.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Rogers, who was convicted earlier this week of capital murder and other charges.

The jury deliberated about seven hours before announcing its decision shortly before 1 p.m. Death and life in prison without parole are the only two punishment options for capital murder.

The jury also recommended that Rogers serve 25 years for rape, 10 years for abduction and 31/2 years for arson. Rogers was also fined $100,000.

None of those proposed sentences mean much in reality, since the capital murder conviction already guarantees Rogers a life sentence.

Judge J. Martin Bass will formally sentence Rogers Nov. 3. The sentencing is a mere formality, since Bass cannot alter the life sentence.

Madaris, 35, was found dead in a field off Telegraph Road in North Stafford on April 10, 2005. Her face had been beaten beyond recognition.

She had last been seen alive four days earlier at a sports bar in Lake Ridge. Rogers forced her into the back of her car and sped away, according to testimony.

Madaris' car was found burned the next day at a construction site in Stafford.

Madaris lived with Rogers at one point but had since broken off their relationship, witnesses said. Prosecutors described Rogers as an obsessed former boyfriend who would not let Madaris go.

Prosecutors Teresa Polinske and Sarah Deneke used cell phone records, prior threats and Rogers' statements to police to connect Rogers to the slaying. Rogers' semen was found inside Madaris when her body was discovered.

Expert testimony indicated that Madaris died within 12 to 24 hours of when her body was found by a man out on his daily walk. Her whereabouts between the night she was abducted and the morning she was found remain a mystery.

Though she told the jury that Rogers deserved the death penalty, Deneke yesterday said she was satisfied with the jury's decision.

"Death is a very difficult decision for a jury, especially when they know that the alternative is life in prison without parole," Deneke said.

At the time of the Madaris slaying, Rogers was on probation for a cocaine distribution conviction that he spent five years in federal prison for.

He also served time for abducting another woman. That woman testified during Rogers' 13-day trial in Stafford Circuit Court.

After failing to convince the jury that Rogers was not in Stafford at the time of the slaying, defense attorneys were able to avoid Rogers' potential execution.

In his defense, the lawyers presented evidence of Rogers' tumultuous childhood that was dominated by an abusive father.

To reach KEITH EPPS:540/374-5404
Email: kepps@freelancestar.com