More than two years after the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy in Memorial Park, the last of three men linked to the crime has been sentenced.
Raymond Rogan Sr. was ordered to serve five years in prison for accessory to murder in the July 2015 death of Desmond Smith. The term is at the low end of the four to eight years he had faced under an October plea agreement. Prosecutors say he tried to get rid of the murder weapon and shell casings afterward to protect two family members who were involved - a son and brother - dealing what could have been a fatal blow to a Colorado Springs police investigation.
"The death of Desmond Smith would have gone without justice," prosecutor Amy Fitch said in requesting a tough sentence.
Fitch said police had placed the Rogan home under surveillance after the killing and recovered the gun and bullet evidence from Rogan's vehicle after stopping it as the family members tried to leave together.
Investigators also ferreted out Rogan Sr.'s attempts to influence the accounts of several teenage girls who had witnessed the shooting, Fitch said.
Smith, a popular student at North Middle School, was shot in the chest in a drive-by shooting near the skate park in Memorial Park that was motivated by suspicions that the boy had stolen Rogan Sr.'s son's phone, authorities said.
Rogan Sr.'s brother, Riccardo Kirven, was convicted at a July trial of pulling the trigger and is serving two life terms plus 48 years in prison. Rogan Sr.'s son, Raymond Rogan Jr., who was behind the wheel of the car from which Kirven opened fire, pleaded guilty to accessory to murder and is serving six years at the Youthful Offender System in Pueblo.
Smith's father, Brian M. Smith, and stepmother, Precious Smith, took turns embracing Rogan's family members at the close of the sentencing hearing after Brian Smith told the court he had forgiven Rogan Sr. for his role in the killing.
The Smith family said they do not want "bitterness" and anger weighing them down as they mourn Desmond, a gifted athlete who earned the nickname "Headache" for how he plagued his rivals on the basketball court.
"Forgiveness is a daily thing," Brian Smith said after the hearing. "It's allowed us to honor the memory of Desmond and to come together as a family."
Rogan Sr., who has four prior felony convictions, denied playing any role in a cover-up and pleaded guilty only because he feared going to trial on charges that could have resulted in a 24-year sentence, said Will Cook, his court-appointed attorney.
Cook said his client had turned his life around in recent years and was working hard to provide for his family at the time of the killing.
While awaiting sentencing, Rogan helped crack a different murder case, giving police the name of a suspect in a robbery and killing at a Colorado Springs auto garage, Cook told the court. When the attorney asked his client why he would be willing to be labeled a "snitch" with prison on the horizon, Rogan Sr. told him the mechanic who was slain had once cut him a break on his bill during a tough time for his family, Cook said.
"He was a good man, and he didn't deserve to die like that," Cook said his client told him.
Cook said Rogan Sr. passed a police polygraph test in which he denied moving shell casings or trying to hide the murder weapon.
Fitch, in court, said Rogan Jr. also passed a lie detector in pinning the coverup attempt on his father.
Smith's parents, both in the Air Force, are preparing to move to Florida, a place Brian Smith said his son always loved.
The sentencing came on the heels of a holiday season filled with further reminders of the family's loss - the parties Desmond attended in footie pajamas, his excitement during their gift exchange.
"We had a tradition where he always greeted (his stepmother) with a New Year's kiss," Brian Smith said. "Those are some of the memories we don't have."