Ill. man who claimed PTSD compelled him to flee from cops sentenced to 6 years in prison
“I think six years is more than reasonable and, to be frank Mr. Rogers, six years is a miracle in this situation,” the judge stated
By Tony Reid
Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.
DECATUR, Ill. — Wesley E. Rogers told a judge Thursday he has a mental health condition that makes him want to flee any time he sees a police officer.
His malady also appears to include an aversion to showing up in court, as he had to be chased down and arrested by the cops after cutting off an ankle monitor and skipping a sentencing hearing scheduled for Nov. 7.
He was caught and booked back into the Macon County Jail on Jan. 11 and kept there until Thursday’s hearing, when Judge Thomas Griffith sentenced him to six years in prison.
The sentence was the maximum allowed under a previous plea deal in which the 40-year-old Decatur defendant admitted possession of a stolen vehicle.
He had been at the wheel of that vehicle — a $30,000 van belonging to an ex-girlfriend — and used it to ram his way through a blockage of cop cars Feb. 12 after he had been cornered outside the Lake View Motel in Decatur.
Officers had to jump clear to save themselves as Rogers crashed into squad cars and then ran over and dragged a parked motorcycle as he fled with a shredded tire. He would lead Decatur police on a long chase, with speeds touching 80 mph, until he was finally stopped and arrested in Douglas County several hours later.
“I want to apologize to the court,” said Rogers before he was sentenced. “I got PTSD when it comes to police officers... I run from them even when I have not even done anything wrong.”
He then claimed his vehicle had been “shot-up” during the chase and admitted he had tried to run when the cops found him again Jan. 11.
“I got anxiety issues and PTSD, that’s all I want to say,” he added.
His plea deal, with a cap of six years, had been negotiated by Chief Public Defender Michelle Sanders. She had noted that Rogers has conditions ranging from bi-polar disorder to anxiety, depression and schizophrenia, combined with a history of alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamine use.
Sanders had pleaded for a sentence of three or four years. “He did make a statement in allocution that it’s almost a fight or flight response for him when he comes into contact with police,” she added. “It doesn’t make it right, it just explains why he does what he does.”
Griffith, however, said Rogers was getting off light considering the scope of the plea deal. It did include an additional three year sentence after he admitted a further charge of aggravated driving under the influence, but this sentence will run concurrently with the six-year term.
The deal also saw the judge dismiss two counts of aggravated battery to police, three charges of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle and two counts of aggravated fleeing. Also dismissed were four counts of criminal damage to government property, two counts of aggravated DUI, one count of driving on a revoked license and one count of theft.
Additional charges of aggravated fleeing, driving on a revoked license, aggravated domestic battery and two other domestic battery charges were also dropped as part of the deal.
Telling Rogers he was “most definitely a danger to this community,’ the judge said the plea deal in comparison to his crimes was exceptionally lenient. “I think six years is more than reasonable and, to be frank Mr. Rogers, six years is a miracle in this situation.”
The defendant’s legal problems aren’t over yet, however. In between skipping his earlier sentencing court date and getting caught again, he has managed to rack up a raft of new charges. These include aggravated fleeing, being a felon in possession of a firearm and driving on a revoked license.
He is also charged with aggravated domestic battery involving strangulation and four counts of domestic battery. Rogers is due back in court for preliminary hearings Jan. 24.
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