Thursday, 30 May 2024

County resident convicted of conspiracy, attempted murder for 2005 shooting

UKIAH – The former chair of the water and fire board and assistant fire chief for the coastal hamlet of Westport was convicted last week of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder in the 2005 shooting of a political rival.

Kenneth Allen Rogers, 51, who since has moved to Lake County, was convicted by a jury in Ukiah last Wednesday, according to his attorney, J. David Markham of Lakeport.

Markham, who was appointed by the court to represent Rogers after his previous attorney had to leave the case due to a conflict, said Rogers is facing 25 years to life on the conspiracy charge alone when he's sentenced in Ukiah at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

Tim Stoen of the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office, who prosecuted the case, said Rogers could be looking at a life term.

Rogers was accused for conspiring with an employee, Richard Peacock, to kill Alan Simon, a political rival of Rogers', on June 17, 2005.

“It was a very dramatic case,” said Stoen.

Stoen said Rogers and Peacock hatched the plot due to a “cascading set of reasons.”

Rogers had chaired the water and fire board in Westport, a town of about 80 full-time residents north of Fort Bragg, where Rogers had lived since 1997, said Stoen.

Stoen said residents in the district claimed Rogers was harassing them, and a successful recall effort was launched, culminating in the Aug. 21, 2004, vote in which he was replaced by Simon.

“He took it hard,” said Stoen.

Then, in January of 2005, Rogers and Simon crossed paths again, when Rogers was fired as assistant fire chief, with Simon voting against him. Stoen said Rogers later won a lawsuit proving he had been wrongly terminated.

But Stoen alleged that Rogers' anger continued to grow. In May of 2005, a notary who visited Rogers said spittle was flying from his mouth at the mention of Simon.

Peacock – who Stoen called a “street thug” – was released from custody on March 26, 2005, after serving time for several felony charges including one involving a firearm.

The prosecution alleged that Rogers and Peacock conspired to kill Simon, with Stoen saying that Rogers had a “triple motive” – his recall, the firing and his belief that the recall had hurt his chances for higher political office in Sacramento. Stoen said Rogers, the chair of the Mendocino County Republican Central Committee, had claimed that the Republican Party was his “religion.”

Stoen alleged that Rogers and Peacock thought they had planned the perfect crime, with the shooting taking place on a Friday night.

Peacock went to Simon's home and fired nine shots into the front door. Stoen said Simon dove to the floor and was hit in the scalp and arm by the bullets.

Despite being injured, Simon was able to identify the suspect's distinctive vehicle – a Mazda Miata with a damaged front bumper.

The vehicle would be spotted later on the night of the shooting on Branscomb Road toward Laytonville. Stoen said as Peacock made his getaway, he turned into a remote area where Rogers owned property.

Peacock was arrested the next day and put on trial. He received 71 years to life because the shooting was his third strike, Stoen said.

After Peacock was convicted, the issue remained whether or not he acted alone. During Rogers' trial, Peacock was called to testify, but refused to turn on Rogers, which Stoen suggested was because Peacock didn't want a “snitch jacket” placed on him in prison.

Since Simon was shot, Rogers moved to Lake County, where he has property, said Stoen. Rogers went back and forth between Westport and Sacramento a lot, and so he also spent a lot of time in Lake County. “Clear Lake's been a central part of his life for some time,” Stoen said.

Markham said Rogers had been out on bail since his 2005 arrest, but was remanded into custody after the jury's verdict was delivered last week.

The conviction will be appealed, said Markham.

“I'm going to file a notice of appeal and that will simply get the process started,” he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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