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Street racer pleading guilty to charges filed after woman hit as he fled police in 2022

1 week 4 days 15 hours ago Monday, May 06 2024 May 6, 2024 May 06, 2024 11:35 AM May 06, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — A street racer pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter and aggravated flight after being accused of killing a woman during a chase that hit speeds of more than 100 mph following the 2022 Garth Brooks concert at Tiger Stadium. Darrien Rogers walked free pending sentencing to a five-year prison term.

"He's able to walk out everyday, breathe and enjoy the air ... and it just hurts," said Natalie Pitts, a cousin of the victim, Sherell Weston.

Rogers, 24, admitted responsibility for the April 30, 2022, crash that killed Weston, 49, and accepted a prison term that's only one-eighth of the maximum. District Judge Louise Hines set sentencing for July 8.

According to police, Rogers had been driving erratically — speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road — when officers attempted to pull him over on Choctaw Drive near North Acadian Thruway. He sped away and ran through a red light at Scenic Highway and Fuqua Street, striking Weston's car on the driver's side, investigators said. 

Weston died at the scene; Rogers had minor injuries.

Rogers' trial had been scheduled to start Monday. 

Police said Rogers was among a number of street racers who tied up traffic following the Garth Brooks concert at Tiger Stadium in 2022. His social media accounts include references to the "Highway Demons" that claimed responsibility for shutting down College Drive after Brooks' concert the same night Weston died.

Weston's family says they had gone to the 19th Judicial District Courthouse early Monday expecting to watch jury selection, but the district attorney's office had agreed to a deal with Rogers and his lawyer.

"I plan to meet with the DA and review the file because I want to be able to tell the whole story because there was not a trial today and I want to be able to say, I know my daughter would be here for me," said Weston's father, Larry Weston. 

They say they were unaware of the plea change until after it was lined up.

"The first thing we heard was he was copping a plea and he was getting five years. The judge had already decided. Nobody from the family had an opportunity to even express to the judge their concerns about this five-year agreement that supposedly has been made," Weston said.

Though sentencing won't happen until this summer, the district attorney's office said Hines agreed that five years without probation for manslaughter was appropriate. Once Rogers leaves prison, he will have to talk to high schoolers about the dangers of street racing.

"I was expecting better justice for the crime committed," Pitts said.

For Weston's family, it's nowhere near enough.

"It just doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense for the crime committed," Pitts said.

Rogers missed a previous court hearing, prompting prosecutors to ask that Hines revoke his bond. The judge said Monday that if he misses the July 8 sentencing, she'll sentence him to 40 years, the maximum term for manslaughter. Rogers said he was not aware of the previous hearing that he missed.

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