Gunman in 2018 accidental shooting death sentenced to two years in prison, $5,000 fine
BATON ROUGE - In February of 2018, a 23-year-old Baker woman named Cherish Smith was accidentally shot to death by her partner, Rhykem Rogers and now, over two years later Rogers' fate has been decided by a Louisiana court.
According to court documents, the 30-year-old Rogers father of two children who he and Smith raised together, has been sentenced to two years behind bars followed by active supervised probation with the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections for three years after his release from prison.
In addition to this, State District Judge Tarvald Smith also fined Rogers to $5,000 last week.
Earlier this year, Rogers pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of his late girlfriend.
The two were residing in Baker and had recently celebrated the birth of their second child when, according to an arrest report, Rogers went out with his mother and brother to have a few drinks and returned to the couple's McHugh Road home with his brother.
But, the arrest report goes on to say that the evening soured when the two brothers got into an argument that escalated to a violent display.
Rogers released his brother's pit bull from the backyard and started shooting at the dog with a semi-automatic handgun as the dog ran across the street, the report states, firing four or five rounds.
In a tragic accident, Rogers bullets missed the dog but accidentally hit Smith in the stomach, an injury that resulted in her death.
Rogers' attorney, Neal Wilkinson, spoke with reporters from The Advocate on Wednesday, saying, "He loved this young woman and they were preparing to be married and raise their family. He has lost his fiancee and these two beautiful children have lost their mother.
"She cannot be replaced and will be missed by everyone. The family on both sides love this young woman and are devastated by that loss," he added. "Everyone involved needs our prayers and support and my heart goes out to them all."
Judge Smith initially sentenced Rogers to five years in prison but eventually suspended three of those years.
The special conditions of Rogers probation include stipulations that he pay $65 a month to settle the supervision costs; undergo a substance abuse evaluation and follow any recommended treatment; remain arrest and conviction free, as well as drug and alcohol free; and complete a firearm training course upon completion of his probation.