Cameron Rogers claims that he was sexually assaulted by the father he admitted to having killed, sending his trial by the double murder jury in a pirouette, this newspaper can now reveal.
Rogers' last-minute allegation of long-term sexual abuse to his defense attorneys came just days before the defense team began filing his case in the double-murder trial of first-degree murder.
Not only did Rogers never tell the lawyers charged with defending him, he also did not mention the allegations in the three confessions he made about the murders.
Rogers, 24, is still charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the November 2016 murder of his parents Dave Rogers and Merrill Gleddie Rogers. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but that claim was rejected by prosecutors. And now, the jury tasked with deciding his fate has been fired.
Rogers' last-minute allegations require additional time in court to be assessed by prosecutors. But after raising the jury for readiness to resume trial on New Year's Eve, Ontario Superior Court Judge Kevin Phillips dismissed three of the 12 members of the jury on Monday who could not continue serving.
That brought the total number of jurors to nine. But it also meant that the jury was "no longer properly constituted," Phillips said before dismissing the jury, resulting in a misjudgment. Despite this, the trial may continue with a judge alone, if prosecutors consent. If not, a new trial would begin at a later date.
Although Monday's turnaround was a result of the jury's availability, Rogers' defense lawyers called for a trial last week alone in a separate application. They alleged that the late allegation of sexual assault meant that they would have to struggle to undo a theory of the case that the jury had already heard in pieces during questioning of the Crown witnesses.
In that homicide plea, defense counsel Joseph Addelman told the court last week, in the absence of the jury, that his client raised questions of self-defense when he spoke to a psychiatrist after making allegations to his lawyer.
Cameron told a psychiatrist that he "did what he had to do to survive," Addelman said.
These arguments, made without the presence of a jury in front of a judge, are typically protected by a publication ban until the jury begins its deliberations. This prohibition is no longer in force, the court heard.
"So far, we have portrayed parents as otherwise loving," Addelman told the court during the application. Defense theory, before Rogers' allegations, was that there was no motive. The new information could present other options for Rogers' defense, which could mitigate his guilt and intent.
Court heard evidence from the Crown that Dave and Merrill were domineering, strict parents who acted out of love for their son, whom they adopted as a newborn and who was diagnosed with ADHD. This evidence was widely disputed by Rogers' defense counsel. Frustrated with the lack of control over his own life – which included being forced to enroll in a college program he did not like, having a bedtime at age 22 and never being allowed to work for money – Rogers killed his parents, the Crown argued.
Addelman and counselor Pierre-Olivier Lemieux argued that the change in defense strategy would be "impossible for a jury to understand" and would jeopardize Rogers' right to a fair trial.
Crown prosecutor Matthew Geigen-Miller told the court that prosecutors knew almost nothing about how the late revelation of sexual abuse emerged.
"There is an apparent reversal in the position of the accused," Geigen-Miller said.
However, Judge Phillips was willing to postpone the trial to give prosecutors the time it took to have a forensic psychiatrist evaluate Rogers. It was this postponement, which would continue for the new year, which would place an "undue hardship" on three members of the jury, leading to the trial.
Investigator responsible for homicide Det. Chris Benson said the Gleddie family is "disappointed that it is not resolved at this time, but they continue to support the process and continue to rely on the administration of justice."
The Merrill brothers, who participated in the trial, put their lives on hold to be in court to follow suit, Benson said.
The jury trial repeatedly heard that Rogers confessed to the brutal murders on three different occasions and that he admitted to shove his father into a suitcase and cover his mother on a tarp before hiding their bodies behind a backyard at his home on Apeldoorn Avenue. The trial also heard that when denied entry into the United States while trying to flee the country, Rogers lied repeatedly about what he was planning to do in the country. He first claimed he was going on a hike on the Appalachian Trail, which turned out to be a "sex party" in New York. The border guard knew that he intended to stay and work in the country and denied him entry.
None of Rogers' new allegations were tried in court.
The trial began in November and was scheduled to last six weeks. The Crown presented its case, but the jury did not return to hear the evidence since November 23, when defense lawyers told the court they would present evidence.
Lawyers are expected to direct whether to proceed with a judgment-only trial on Wednesday.
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