Glen Rogers, the Cross-Country Killer
Over the defense attorney's protest, Kentucky officials agreed to extradite Rogers to Florida to stand trial for first-degree murder, because they thought Florida had the best evidentiary case. Horstman wrote about it for the Cincinnati Post. Kentucky made a deal that, if acquitted in Florida or convicted but not given the death penalty, Rogers would be sent back to stand trial for the 1993 murder of Mark Peters.
Rogers immediately protested his representation by the Public Defender's Office, claming they did not believe he was innocent and they were secretly conspiring to send him to the electric chair. He wanted to represent himself. They in turn claimed he was undermining their efforts by talking with the media. The judge granted Rogers a private attorney, Nick Sinardi. He soon suggested that Cribbs may have been killed by another man — someone she was seen with after Rogers was with her. In fact, the attempt to throw the blame on another man became something of a circus in itself.
A few weeks before the trial began in April 1997, Assistant DA Karen Cox from the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office ordered that Rogers' cell at the Morgan Street jail be thoroughly searched, along with the cells of three other inmates. Cox had no warrant but nevertheless seized three boxes full of photographs and papers, as reported in the Tampa Tribune. The materials removed from the cell were related to the Cribbs case, but officials from the DA's office declined to specify what they were. They stated that to search a jail cell, no warrant was necessary.
Rogers called Sondra London, a groupie who had befriended notorious serial killer Danny Rolling, the Gainesville Ripper. She not only helped him to publish a book but was also briefly engaged to him. She was reportedly writing a book about Rogers. She told the press that the DA had declined to give Rogers an inventory of what they had taken, but he was certain that some of it was confidential letters between himself and his attorney — protected material. These letters contained Nick Sinardi's specific defense strategy. Sinardi challenged the search, demanding the return of all items taken.
Less than a week later, the papers were returned, on the judge's orders, but no explanation was forthcoming to reporters as to why they had been seized at all. There were hints that the action was part of a criminal investigation unrelated to the pending trial. Strangely, one of the prosecutors admitting to taking some of the items home for the purpose of keeping them secure, but claimed not to have read the documents.
Sinardi requested that none of the material in the documents be used against his client in court. Reporters speculated that because the cell of another suspected killer, Jonathan Lundin, had been searched, and he had killed a Gibsonton woman in 1996. Sinardi was going to finger this person for Cribbs' murder.
Then one of the other three inmates reported that Rogers had attempted to get Lundin to agree to take the fall. Lundin was named as a defense witness, but he said he would plead the fifth and say nothing at all. He claimed he was not in town at the time of the Cribbs murder (and his employer gave him an alibi). In fact, he'd known Cribbs and her mother and wanted to kill Rogers for what he'd done.
Back to square one. During the trial, Rogers' attorneys attempted to portray him as psychotic, due to early alcoholism, repeated head-banging incidents as a child, and a history of truancy and problems in school. While they did indicate that Cribbs had been seen with another man, they were unable to explain why he was driving Ms. Cribbs' car when he was finally caught (he said she had let him borrow it). Also, his fingerprints were lifted from her missing wallet, found discarded in an interstate rest area, and spots of her blood was found on shorts he had in his possession.
The jury listened to the evidence, along with the witness reports, and convicted Rogers of murder. They then sentenced him to death. Rogers reportedly said he was not concerned. He believed he would one day be exonerated.