The Transylvania Times -

By Jeremiah Reed
Staff Writer 

Rogers Found Guilty In 'Rock' Case -Brevard NC

 


Pisgah Forest resident Micah Rogers was found guilty by a Pickens County jury on one count of malicious damage to property under $2,000 in relation to the 2013 vandalism of Howard’s Rock at Clemson University’s Memorial Stadium last Thursday.

Rogers, 20, was also charged with grand larceny in connection to the case but jurors came back with a verdict of not guilty on that count.

Rogers’ sentence included up to 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and community service.

The verdict was also less than the prosecution’s original charge of malicious injury to property valued at more than $10,000.

The judge in the case instructed jurors they had the option to return a verdict of guilty on malicious injury to property more than $10,000, malicious damage to property less than $2,000, or a verdict of not guilty.

The judge also suspended Rogers’ 30-day jail sentence, so long as he completes 25 days of community service and pays $1,000 in restitution, plus an additional $750 in court costs.

The case dates back to June 2, 2013, when Rogers is accused of scaling a fence surrounding Clemson’s football stadium before breaking open a protective case that housed Howard’s Rock and ultimately chipping away a large portion of the rock itself, before fleeing the scene.

Two of Rogers’ friends were with him at the time of the offense.

The missing portion of Howard’s Rock has never been recovered.

The trial lasted over the course of two-and-a-half days, beginning last Tuesday.

Jurors initially came back deadlocked over the verdict after nearly four hours of deliberation Thursday afternoon, but the judge sent them back to try and come to a consensus. Minutes later, the jury delivered their decision.

The main witness for the prosecution was one of the two males who were with Rogers on the night of the offense.

Although that witness testified to seeing Rogers scale the fence surrounding Memorial Stadium and to hearing the sound of glass breaking and hammering moments later, he also testified that he never saw Rogers in possession of any portion of Howard’s Rock nor did he see Rogers in possession of any tools which might have been used to destroy the protective casing or the rock itself.

Attorney Frank Eppes represented Rogers in the case.

During a brief interview Friday, Eppes said while the verdict didn’t go as he hoped, he respected the decision and was glad his client could move forward after the ordeal.

“We’re disappointed with the verdict but at the same time we respect the jury’s decision,” Eppes said. “The main thing I ask is that people respect the privacy of the Rogers’ family.

“They’ve been through more than anybody should have to go through for this case, and continue to go through it.”

Aside from the testimony of a witness who was at Memorial Stadium that night, the other point of contention involved the market value of Howard’s Rock.

The rock has long been a piece of Clemson football lore, getting its name from legendary coach Frank Howard.

Clemson players traditionally touch the rock before home games and it’s also a popular spot for fans to take pictures.

The prosecution claimed, based on an appraisal from Leila Dunbar Appraisal and Consulting LLC, that the missing portion of Howard’s Rock is worth between $32,500 and $134,400, “depending on the method of sale.”

Prior to the trial, Eppes filed a brief rejecting that appraised value and requested the charge of malicious damage to property more than $10,000 be dropped or the charge reduced to malicious damage to property under $2,000. The court denied that request.

In his brief, Eppes argued that it was highly unlikely the rock could ever be sold, asking how one could prove its authenticity.

Since the piece of rock is also considered stolen, there are no means by which it could be sold legally.

The brief further stated while Howard’s Rock undoubtedly holds great sentimental/emotional value to Clemson alums and fans, that the prosecution should not be able to use that to bolster the value of what – at the end of the day – is simply a large piece of quartz, much like any other rock in the Upstate.

Despite that brief being denied, it would appear the jury had similar feelings, as they returned a guilty verdict, but valued the piece of rock at under $2,000.

Although the vandalism portion of the case is over, there are still outstanding charges related to the Howard’s Rock case. Michael Rogers, Micah’s father, and one of the two boys who were with Micah the night of the offense, both face two felony counts – one conspiracy and one obstructing justice – as they are accused of knowingly providing false information to authorities regarding the case.

No trial date regarding those other charges has been set.

 
 

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