BREAKING: Casper Man Found Not Guilty Of First-Degree Murder
GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: The below story contains a description of a November 2019 murder-rape in Casper. Additionally, this story describes autopsy photos jurors viewed during testimony in the trial. Discretion is strongly advised.
It took 12 Natrona County jurors roughly three hours on Friday to find Anthony Rodriguez not guilty of first-degree murder. The jury also found him not guilty of felony murder.
However, jurors did convict Rodriguez of second-degree murder and domestic battery. The distinction between first-degree and second-degree murder is that first-degree murder requires premeditation.
Rodriguez was also charged with felony murder as prosecutors alleged that Rodriguez sexually assaulted his victim, Mary Fogle and killed her in the act.
Second-degree murder is punishable by between 20 years and life behind bars.
Original story below.
November 17, 2019 was a day about power, control, domination and rape, Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen said to begin closing arguments in a five-day murder trial on Friday.
Itzen said that by the end of that day, Mary Fogle lay dead in her hallway at 1200 Conwell after being brutally beaten, stabbed and raped by Anthony Rodriguez.
"(Rodriguez) didn't do those things because he was mentally ill. He did those things to regain power and control — rage he couldn't hold in," Itzen said. "That's exactly how Mary Fogle met her end."
Rodriguez was charged with first-degree murder, felony murder and domestic battery. He pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness to the charges. After attorneys made their closing arguments Friday afternoon, the case was submitted to 12 Natrona County jurors.
Jurors began the day Friday hearing testimony from Rodriguez. As was the case Thursday evening, Rodriguez often gave rambling, tangential answers when asked questions.
During his testimony Friday morning, Rodriguez said Fogle paid the bills at the 1200 Conwell residence where he lived with his wife and Fogle's daughter, Allison Solis. Fogle purchased most of the groceries. She bought Solis and Rodriguez clothing.
Itzen showed Rodriguez images of Fogle's disfigured face after the killing. Then he showed a photo of Rodriguez taken shortly after he turned himself in at the El Paso Sheriff's Office in Colorado Springs Colorado on November 18, 2019.
"On November 17, 2019, Mary had free-floating bones in her head and you had a swollen hand?" Itzen asked.
Not much further into Itzen's line of questioning, Rodriguez began rambling and giving non-sensical answers.
Jurors left the courtroom before Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey once again admonished Rodriguez for his conduct.
"These are simple rules and they should be followed," Forgey said. "I probably couldn't have accommodated you anymore.
"If this continues, I will consider striking your entire testimony from this trial. I don't think that's something you want."
Rodriguez calmed down after his final warning. He testified that he thought Fogle was trying to kill him and claimed that she came at him with a pizza cutter and at another point, a knife.
But, Itzen noted, Rodriguez was several inches taller than Fogle and had roughly 50 lbs on her when the incident happened.
On Thursday, forensic pathologist Dr. Thomas Bennett testified that the injuries Fogle suffered to her face were what one would expect after slamming into a brick wall at a high rate of speed.
Mary Fogle was 54.
On November 18, 2019, Anthony Rodriguez walked into the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in Colorado Springs.
"I'd like to confess to a murder — no s--t," he told the security technician manning the desk.
Roughly 24 hours earlier, prosecutors allege, Rodriguez pummeled Fogle's face and head until she was unconscious. Then he picked up a knife and sliced her neck at least seven times and stabbed her neck at least twice.
But he wasn't done, Itzen said.
Rodriguez then rolled Fogle over and sexually assaulted her, according to court documents. He told investigators that he thought she was still alive.
Then, according to testimony heard during the trial, Rodriguez ordered Solis to pack their belongings. They were leaving.
"What we call that ladies and gentlemen is running, leaving the scene," Itzen said. "There's only one reason you run — because you're guilty."
Defense attorney Marty Scott told jurors that testimony police officers gave was inconsistent with what was found at the crime scene. In one instance, a Casper Police officer testified that napkins found in a trashcan at the scene were soaked in blood.
"Any reasonable person would conclude that these aren't soaked with blood," Scott said holding up barely stained paper towels.
Despite a Wyoming State Hospital psychologist testifying that Rodriguez was criminally responsible at the time of the incident, Scott urged jurors to reach a not guilty by reason of mental illness verdict.
Scott argued that the testimony Dr. Katherine Mahaffey gave regarding Rodriguez's mental state at the time of the crime was biased. Scott noted that Mahaffey is an employee of the Wyoming Department of Corrections.
The defense attorney also took issue with how Mahaffey referred to Rodriguez in her reports.
"The entire time she was with (Rodriguez) all he was to her was 'the defendant," Scott said. "She has a bias."
Scott said delusions Rodriguez had never subsided. He also noted that Rodriguez could barely keep it together in the courtroom when he was on the stand.
Rodriguez, Scott said, was pushed to the breaking point when his mother-in-law attacked him. The actions inflicted on Mary Fogle on November 17, 2019 weren't premeditated murder. They were someone acting in the sudden heat of passion.
On Thursday, Itzen dismissed Rodriguez's actions on the witness stand as a theater, a position he furthered during his closing arguments on Friday.
"Ladies and gentlemen, he should get an Emmy," Itzen said.
Itzen said there was no way Rodriguez's actions were simply self-defense. Rodriguez had a duty to cease striking Fogle the moment she was no longer a threat. Even if Rodriguez were defending himself, that happened when Fogle was knocked out.
Instead, Rodriguez told investigators that he "just couldn't stop."
"November 17, ladies and gentlemen, was horrific," Itzen said. "There's no question about that."