A man involved in a high-speed chase a year ago that ended with a violent standoff with police in a local church is now heading to prison.
On Monday afternoon, one year and 10 days after the incident, Judge Emory Palmer sentenced Matthew James Rogers to 50 years to serve 29 in prison after accepting a blind plea, in which a defendant does not have a sentence agreed upon beforehand and leaves his fate in the hands of a judge. After the 29 years, Rogers will be placed on probation.
Rogers, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on a police officer, fleeing and attempting to elude police, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and child molestation, according to Assistant District Attorney Kevin McMurry.
On November 17, 2015, Rogers and Stephen Matthew Horsely, 30, were riding with a 14-year-old female runaway when deputies attempted to pull the car over, according to Chief Deputy James Yarbrough. The driver refused to stop, and a high-speed chase ensued down Martin Mill Road, onto Highway 27, and then back onto Hwy. 16 East.
Authorities said the two men began shooting at police from the car as they passed a 9mm pistol back and forth. Speeds reached over 100 mph as the pursuit continued onto Old Hwy. 16 and Hwy. 154.
The suspects then turned onto Michael’s Crossing and abandoned the car on Halo Trace, where the three fled on foot. A perimeter was set up by members of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, the Newnan Police Department, the Senoia Police Department, and the Georgia State Patrol, along with the help of a K-9 team.
Authorities quickly captured an injured Horsley, who was found crawling in a ditch. Rogers and the teen girl made their way east through the wooded area as the search party widened its perimeter.
Rogers and the girl made their way to the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints at 157 Bob Smith Road where a program was being held involving more than 100 adults and children, Yarbrough said.
As soon as the suspects entered the building, church staff, sensing something was amiss, immediately escorted them to another room. Police evacuated the building, and members of the church huddled behind police cars in the church parking lot.
Rogers refused repeated orders to drop his weapon, so Cpl. Floyd Boswell fired his shotgun at Rogers, striking him in the chest, according to Yarbrough. The girl was tasered for failing to comply with commands to get on the ground. No one at the church was harmed during the standoff.
Rogers was airlifted to Grady Hospital, where he underwent surgery and remained for several weeks.
Horsley is currently in custody and awaiting a court date, according to McMurray.
Clay Neely: firstname.lastname@example.org, @clayneely