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Undiscovered documents halt Rogers murder trial in Deadwood

The Lawrence County Courthouse in Deadwood
Creative Commons
The Lawrence County Courthouse in Deadwood

Court proceedings in a murder trial were briefly halted in Deadwood this week. All it took was one missing document from a special Rapid City law enforcement team to create a potential murder case mistrial.

The Dreau Rogers murder trial was held up after attorneys couldn’t produce reports from the Rapid City Special Response Team that document their account of the night of Jan. 22, 2022.

Rogers faced a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of his wife, Destiny Dawn. Rogers has pleaded not guilty and claims another party, Donovan Derrek, pulled the trigger. Ultimately Rogers was found guilty on a count of second-degree murder.

In the investigation, authorities discovered gunshot residue on both Rogers and Derrek’s hands, though investigators say that residue could have been picked up from being in the vicinity of a gunshot.

Bullets used in the shooting could not be conclusively tied to the gun police believed was used in the death, and investigators were unable to successfully fingerprint the weapon. A box with multiple brands of bullets was found in the Rogers’ residence, including one matching the spent casing found on the floor of the crime scene.

According to Spearfish PD Detective Steve Hofmann, the Rapid City SRT was called to the incident after it became clear children could be involved in the situation. The Rapid City SRT is trained and designated for sensitive situations like these.

The Black Hills Pioneer first reported court proceedings on the third day of trial were stopped to give attorneys more time to assess 20 pages of reports from the SRT. These previously undiscovered documents were first brought to light when team leader Chad Sayles testified about his involvement on the night of Jan. 22.

That report contains detailed information about the SRT’s operation, call logs, precise locations, and the names and actions of every officer and citizen on scene.

Defense attorney Robert Rohl contends the defense is entitled to review these reports and requested a mistrial. Circuit court judge Michael Day agreed on the first matter and called for a brief recess.

Ultimately, the brief pause in the trial was all that came as judge Day rejected all the mistrial grounds, contending that while defense hasn’t seen the documents, neither had prosecutors.

Rogers maintained his innocence throughout the trial. Closing statements were delivered Thursday.

After deliberating for about two hours, the jury returned a guilty verdict which carries a mandatory life sentence. His sentencing hearing is Jan. 2.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture