Westport Murder-for-Hire Convict’s Bid for Reduced Sentence Denied

Information from the Mendocino County District Attorney Facebook page:

District Attorney Mendocino County DA blurSupported in his release effort by the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), a former Westport man convicted of attempting to have a political opponent murdered in 2005 failed in the Mendocino County Superior Court Wednesday morning in his attempt to have his 25 years-to-life sentence recalled and reduced.

Kenneth Allen Rogers, more commonly known in the day as Kenny Rogers, now age 66 and housed at San Quentin, appeared by video at the Department B court hearing with his local court-appointed attorney.

The People were represented by District Attorney David Eyster. Appearing also by video was Rogers’ attempted murder victim. The original prosecutor, Tim Stoen, also appeared, listening intently from the courtroom gallery.

While Rogers had long ago failed in all of his avenues of appeal, this latest 2024 round of litigation was authorized by Sacramento with the passage of Assembly Bill 600 wherein the Legislature enacted Penal Code § 1172.1, effective January 1, 2024.

In essence, this new law grants judges the authority to recall previously ordered prison sentences and re-sentence an inmate to a lower sentence, if not outright release, no matter the crime if the original sentence no longer aligns with the current legislative changes to the state of California law.

As in Rogers’ case, if the request for sentence recall and reduction is initiated by certain authorities, including the Secretary of CDCR who is a Governor’s appointee, the burden falls on the local District Attorneys to rebut a legislative presumption in favor of recalling the original sentence by making a showing that the inmate still poses “an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety,” as that phrase has also been restrictively defined by the Legislature.

The CDCR Secretary based his recommendation on a referral from the San Quentin warden, who had reported the “exceptional conduct” of inmate Rogers, in that Rogers has purportedly demonstrated a “sustained compliance with departmental rules and regulations, as well as prolonged participation in rehabilitative programming.”

However, the same letter also noted instances where it has been necessary to “counsel” Rogers for (1) attempting three times to intimidate a correctional officer into removing negative information from his prison file; (2) attempting to “manipulate” prison staff when Rogers had been denied a medical appointment he was seeking; (3) being scheduled for a medical appointment but Rogers opting to go to the gym instead of the appointment; and (4) participating in a work stoppage after being counseled.

In anticipation of Wednesday’s hearing, DA Eyster had witnesses ready to address the Court to explain that Rogers still poses an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety and the reasons why they hold that belief. Many letters were submitted in support of Rogers and even more in opposition to the sentence recall and possible re-sentencing of Rogers.

When all was said and done, Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Victoria Shanahan determined that – in light of the charges that Rogers stands convicted of and the 25-to-lfe sentence previously imposed – the Court did not have the discretion to grant a recall and to re-sentence Rogers in this case.

Judge Shanahan also noted that even if she had discretion to change the sentence, for example, to grant probation instead of prison, she still would not be willing to re-sentence Rogers to a grant of probation.

In talking to interested attendees outside of the courtroom after the hearing, DA Eyster cautioned that Rogers – surprisingly with the assistance of prison staff and others who seek to reduce state prison inmate populations – continues to build a resume to present to the Board of Prison Terms panel at his first parole hearing, now advanced by parole authorities to happen sometime in February 2027.

DA Eyster expressed his belief that the CDCR Secretary’s letter will be given great weight by the panel of commissioners, and the issue of future “dangerousness,” the danger Rogers poses to those who opposed him back in the Westport days and who continue to join together to oppose his release through the present, will be given short shrift.

DA Eyster finally noted that it will again take a concerted letter-writing effort by concerned citizens in 2027 if there is to be any hope at forestalling Rogers’ release.

For those unfamiliar with the background behind this investigation and successful prosecution of Kenneth Allen Rogers, the following is a paraphrased summary of facts taken from the Court of Appeal’s appellate opinion:

Kenneth Allen Rogers was the chairperson of the Westport Water Board and the assistant chief of the Westport Volunteer Fire Department. He was active in the local Republican Party and believed he had a future in Sacramento. The victim moved to Westport in 2002.

Rogers was not universally popular in local politics. In 2004, a petition circulated to recall him from the water board. The victim signed the petition and became the only candidate to run against Rogers. Rogers visited the victim at his house and asked him to remove his name from the recall petition, but the victim refused. In an election held August 31, 2004, Rogers was recalled from office on a vote of 29 to 19, and the victim replaced him.

In December 2004, Rogers called the victim and said that if he did not put 50,000 gallons of water in the water storage tank by the next morning, Rogers “was going to hang” him. Knowing that Rogers was angry about losing the recall election, the victim construed this as a serious threat on his life and reported it to law enforcement.

On January 19, 2005, the water board, led by the victim, voted to replace the chief of the volunteer fire department and Rogers, the assistant chief. Rogers said this was a “terrible day for Westport” and filed a lawsuit challenging his termination.

In March 2005, Richard Peacock was released from prison. Rogers knew Peacock and gave him a job at his auto detailing business in Sacramento. Peacock told his parole officer that he “loved” Rogers because of their friendship and “would do anything for him.”

By May of 2005, the victim had decided to move from Westport and put his home up for sale. Also in May 2005, Rogers told a woman who was notarizing loan documents for him that he felt incensed and persecuted over his removal from the water board and fire department.

On June 17, 2005, Richard Peacock travelled to Westport in a white convertible Miata. He was stopped by a police officer in the town of Williams for driving with expired registration and said that he was traveling to Mendocino County with his parole officer’s permission. In fact, he did not have his parole officer’s permission.

At about 10:30 that night, Richard Peacock knocked on the front door of the victim’s house in Westport, aggressively demanding to speak to “Kathy.” The victim, who was alone inside, told the man he had the wrong house and called 911. While still on the phone with the dispatcher, the victim opened his door and saw a man leaning against a white sports car with front end damage. Peacock walked back toward the victim, saying, “Hey, man, I don’t want any trouble,” and then pulled out a gun and fired it at the victim, grazing his head.

The victim stepped back inside, closed his front door, and dropped to the floor inside his house. Peacock fired several more shots through the door and injured the victim’s right wrist. Police who investigated the scene eventually found eight expended .22 caliber shell casings on the victim’s front lawn and nine bullet holes in his front door.

Law enforcement officers spotted Peacock driving the white Miata near Westport the following day. When they attempted to stop him, he accelerated and threw a white plastic bag out the window. Peacock eventually stopped the car and was arrested; the bag was recovered and contained a Ruger .22 caliber semiautomatic handgun containing only one of ten rounds. Ballistics tests revealed that the Ruger was the gun used in the victim’s shooting.

The gun was previously owned by Velma Bowen, who had allowed Rogers and his family to stay in her home in 1999. During the visit, Rogers had stored some guns that he owned under Bowen’s bed, near a box where she stored her .22 Ruger. After Rogers and his family moved out, Bowen discovered the Ruger was missing. She asked Rogers whether he had taken her gun, but he said no, he had his own Ruger.

According to Rogers’ wife, however, she and Rogers later found Bowen’s gun in a toolbox and assumed it had been taken inadvertently during their move out of Bowen’s home.

Rogers was interviewed about the victim’s shooting by Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department Detective Alvarado [now, in 2024, the DA’s chief investigator]. Rogers acknowledged that he had issues with the victim (describing him as “an asshole,” “rude,” and “a jerk” but denied having anything to do with the shooting. He admitted telling the victim he wanted to “hang” him politically.

Rogers told Alvarado that Richard Peacock and his brother Michael Peacock were convicts, that he had known Richard Peacock for 12 to 15 years, and that he had given Richard Peacock a job in his auto body business because he liked to help people. Rogers said he had also employed Michael Peacock as a groundskeeper of some property he owned near the Jack of Hearts Creek, where he grew marijuana.
Rogers was concerned about publicity regarding the marijuana because it was “not really the best thing for a Republican representative to have.”

Rogers acknowledged that Richard Peacock had come to the Jack of Hearts property about a week earlier in a white convertible. He told Detective Alvarado that he “hoped to God” Richard Peacock was not involved in the victim’s shooting, and commented, “I think [the victim] would set up shit like this.” When Alvarado said that seemed unlikely given the victim’s injuries, Rogers suggested that the shooter could have been the husband of one of the women the victim had been “sleeping around with.”

Rogers complained about the lack of respect shown to him by the “new blood” in Westport and about the victim’s public ridicule of him. Rogers continued to deny his involvement in the shooting in a subsequent interview.

On June 26, 2005, Richard Peacock called Rogers from the Mendocino County jail and complained about the charges against him. Rogers told him, “[T]hey’re trying to pull me into this whole thing, too.” Rogers promised to “be there” for Peacock and to “take care of every bit of business on the outside that I have to … until you’re out and free and released from this garbage.” Peacock told Rogers he was “sorry that all this came to your doorstep.”

On June 28, 2005, the authorities searched Rogers’ Jack of Hearts property and seized 120 to 130 marijuana plants and processed marijuana. Also seized was a digital camera which contained a photo of the victim’s home, taken from the inside of a vehicle sometime after March 11, 2005.

Rogers was arrested and on June 29, 2005, made a telephone call from jail to his wife in which they spoke about the evidence against Rogers being a “convict story.” Rogers called his auto detailing business on the same day and told the person who answered to “make sure everything’s all cleaned up.” He complained that “Michael and Richard are pulling some bullshit, I don’t know what … my bail is like half a million dollars.”

Meanwhile, Richard Peacock received a letter while in jail that read, “Dear Richard. [¶] Hope all is going okay for you. I heard about Michael[‘]s B.S. and can’t believe he could be related to you. Anyway, I will get the “Red Dog” to your kid with some school clothes, money, and will keep an eye out for her. Hope to see you soon, but it’s tough. I’m sending … $40 for your books, more to come. [¶] Your friend, Kate. [¶] P.S. Who’s this Keith guy calling for Michael? I’m not returning his calls. I think he has $ for?” The letter had a Yuba City postmark but no address; Richard Peacock did not know any “Kate” from Yuba City, and thought Rogers’ wife had sent the letter.

Rogers was called as a witness at Richard Peacock’s preliminary hearing on August 4, 2005, and winked at Peacock as he left the stand. Later in the day, Rogers’ then-attorney Donald Masuda gave Peacock’s attorney a message to the effect that Rogers wanted Peacock to know that Rogers’ wife would be looking after or taking care of Peacock’s daughter.

When this message was relayed to Peacock, he became extremely upset and angry and said that the message was a threat to harm Peacock’s daughter. Peacock explained that the “Red Dog” mentioned in the letter from “Kate” was a gun that had a red handle or an emblem of a red dog on the handle.

Richard Peacock did not testify, but Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney Tim Stoen offered his statements about the threat and the “Red Dog” letter under the spontaneous statement exception to the hearsay rule, based on his demeanor upon receiving the message.

In addition to the evidence described above, the prosecution called Michael Peacock as a witness at Rogers’ trial. He testified that he had a lengthy criminal record and had spent time in prison. In 2003, Rogers and Michael Peacock had several conversations about a Black man in Westport, and Rogers was “wishing somebody [would] hurt him, beat him up ….” Michael Peacock thought Rogers had offered him money and/or marijuana to beat the man up. He helped Rogers grow marijuana on his property and saw guns on that property, including one that looked like the gun used in the attack against the victim.

Keith Grier, a Westport resident who attended meetings of the water board, was asked to be a candidate against Rogers in the recall election, but declined. Grier is African American.

According to Michael Peacock, he and his brother Richard had a conversation in Sacramento either the day of or the day before the victim’s shooting. Richard told Michael he had plans to visit Westport and that Rogers had asked him to “severely hurt” the guy who had got Rogers “kicked off the water board.”

Michael had told police that Richard said he had been offered three to four pounds of marijuana by Rogers to carry out the attack. Richard was looking for a “piece” and asked Michael where he could get one, though he did not say he was going to use a gun on the victim.

To rebut the evidence that Rogers had threatened Richard Peacock’s daughter with a gun known as the “Red Dog,” Rogers’ wife, Christine Rogers, testified that she had helped Richard Peacock’s wife and his daughter financially, and that appellant had promised Richard he would give his daughter a large stuffed animal – Clifford, the Big Red Dog – that he had won at the Marine World theme park. Alva Haught, who knew Rogers and Richard Peacock, testified that in early 2005, he had seen the stuffed dog in Rogers’ auto body shop and asked if he could have it to give to his daughter.

Eric Beren, who knew both Rogers and Richard Peacock, testified that Peacock was scary, violent and “institutionalized.” Peacock did not have a lot of friends, and Beren believed he was so loyal to the friends he did have that he would take violent action against anyone who gave them problems. Beren also claimed that he and his wife had been interested in buying property in Westport and that Rogers would sometimes show them pictures of houses for sale in that area on his digital camera.

The police officers who searched Rogers’ home and his property on Jack of Hearts Creek did not find a gun with a red handle or a picture of a red dog on the grip.

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13 Comments
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Stevo
Member
Stevo
17 days ago

Sure this is all of the story? There was another car. There were guns found elsewhere transported. Was there an informant never charged?

Brackish
Guest
Brackish
17 days ago
Reply to  Stevo

I guess Rogers drove the El Camino? Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought an Elkie was involved. You might be on to something, with the informant question

Creosote
Guest
Creosote
17 days ago
Reply to  Brackish

Elkie. My papa used to call it a ‘Cowboy Cadillac’

Truth Be Told
Member
Truth Be Told
17 days ago
Reply to  Stevo

This isn’t a complicated case. Rogers enlisted Peacock to hurt or kill the victim and the deed went down just as it was described in the DA’s post.

There is no other car or guns relevant to this case. Maybe you missed the part about the ballistics report confirming the Ruger was the attempted murder weapon?

Ed Thyssen
Guest
Ed Thyssen
17 days ago

The water board is an entirely unpaid position. Considering Westport barely qualifies as a village, why would anyone care in the slightest about being on the water board or any other board? Weird

local observer
Guest
local observer
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Thyssen

Kenny Rogers, 54, a businessman, marijuana grower and chairman of the Mendocino County Republican Central Committee.
have you ever dealt with the Mendocino village water board? They justify their actions by making statements like “this aquifer has no recharge”.

Truth Be Told
Member
Truth Be Told
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Thyssen

Among other things he tapped into the water district mainline to divert water to the marijuana garden that he had on the District property. That scheme fell apart because he didn’t install a backflow device and the fertilizer he was adding to his irrigation system was back flowing into the main distribution line causing the water to taste funny – duh!

I think he was the chair of the Republican Central Committee! No doubt a rising star!

Bozo
Guest
Bozo
17 days ago

>”… judges the authority to recall previously ordered prison sentences and re-sentence an inmate to a lower sentence, if not outright release, no matter the crime if the original sentence no longer aligns with the current legislative changes to the state of California law.”

… including the Secretary of CDCR who is a Governor’s appointee, the burden falls on the local District Attorneys to rebut a legislative presumption…”

Let’s hear how our local reps voted on those bills ???

X-Mann
Guest
X-Mann
17 days ago

When Kenny Rogers was chairman of the Mendocino County Republican Central Committee, I had a chat with him one evening at the Republican Headquarters in Fort Bragg at 200 Oak St, shortly before George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004.

During our 20 minute or so mostly one sided conversation, it became apparent to me that Rogers was a dangerous radical, as he went on a stream of consciousnesses diatribe against Democrats and “others” who didn’t share his “American values.”

The longer he went on, the more angry/agitated he became, and I was becoming concerned, he was so worked up.

The point were I politely backed away and ended the conversation was when he vehemently said “You know, I Hate protesters, they just cause trouble, and when they disrespect and dishonor the Flag, I just want to kill them, I just want to kill them all.”

Needless to say, I wasn’t too surprised when he was arrested in a murder for hire plot.

Entering a world of pain
Guest
Entering a world of pain
17 days ago

What a waste of time and money. Guys gonna be getting a parole hearing in the next 2 years anyway

Mendo Known 50 years
Guest
Mendo Known 50 years
17 days ago

Deputy DA Timothy Stoen, the Peoples Temple Jim Jones Guyana Attorney that signed his name on all those custody and adoption papers of the kids handed over to people’s temple. Somehow rehired by Corrupt Mendocino decades later after he started a war with Peoples Temple, which ultimately ended with the death of over 900 people mostly children and many expatients from Mendocino State Hospital which Jim Jones came to Mendocino to create “halfway houses” for all the 1950s LSD experiment patients. Look it up. Google : LSD MENDOCINO STATE HOSPITAL, The doctor wa Wilson Van Dusen.
Mendo Dark Histiry

Truth Be Told
Member
Truth Be Told
17 days ago

Tim Stoen should have gone to prison for life for his many crimes facilitating and covering up for Jim Jones.

He later turned on Jones but by then over 900 people were effectively prisoners in the Hotel Jonesville – “you can check out any time you like but you can never leave” – at least not before drinking the poison punch.

Liea
Guest
Liea
17 days ago

Just saw this wow wow..3 of us..have been speaking of this..look upntim shea..he was the sheriff at this time and ya not good..please get in touch and..thank you..xo