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Jimmy Rodgers murder trial updates: Opening statements done, witnesses called

Posted at 6:51 AM, Oct 10, 2019

UPDATE (1:45 PM) -- Proceedings have resumed following a lunch break. Lee County Sheriff's Office crime scene technician Kimberly Van Waus has been called to the stand for questioning.

Prosecutors asked Van Waus to describe photographs she took of the inside and outside of the home. These photographs are evidence of the crime scene.

One of the photographs was of the victims body on the kitchen floor.

There was also a photograph of the hammer at the crime scene. Inside the home Van Waus says they also found shredded documents with the address of an insurance company, and $50,000 in four different safes.

Van Waus said the home did not appear to be ransacked.

When the prosecutors handed Van Waus an evidence folder, she pulled out the hammer she says was at the crime scene and showed it to the jury members.

She later also identified the hair found on the hammer.

Jimmy Rodgers murder trial: Crime scene technician goes over photos from scene

UPDATE (11:40 AM) -- The next witness is Lt. Adam Hughes of Bonita Springs Fire, who was among a the first responders to arrive at the murder scene.

Jimmy Rodgers murder trial: First responder to murder scene is questioned

UPDATE (11:15 AM) -- The next witness is Dr. Mark Petrites, a family friend who was asked to check in on Teresa the day she was found murdered. He described what he saw when he arrived at the home.

Jimmy Rodgers murder trial: Dr. Mark Petrites is questioned

UPDATE (11 AM) -- The next witness is Sandra Hoskins, a medical assistant at Dr. Teresa Sievers' practice, Restorative Health Healing. She was questioned about the events of the morning that Dr. Sievers was found dead.

Jimmy Rodgers muder trial: Witness Sandra Hoskins testifies

UPDATE (10:35 AM) -- The first witness has taken the stand, Teresa Sievers' older sister, Ann Lisa.

She says she was in New York with Teresa and her husband celebrating her mother’s birthday from June 26 to June 28. When it was time to leave, Ann Lisa says Teresa Sievers flew back earlier than Mark Sievers, who stayed back with their two daughters and stayed with Teresa’s mother.

Jimmy Rodgers murder trial: Questioning of Ann Lisa

UPDATE (10:20 AM) - Public defender Kathleen Fitzgeorge then took the stand, asking jury members to listen to all evidence before forming an opinion. The defense says there was no communication between Rodgers and Mark Sievers, and that Rodgers’ former girlfriend’s statements to detectives were inconsistent.

The defense says Rodgers' girlfriend Taylor Shoemaker has gotten money from detectives and is still getting $400 monthly, and asks the jury to question her credibility.

Jimmy Rodgers murder trial: Defense Opening Statement

UPDATE (9:25 AM) -- Opening statements are under way. After a brief sidebar with the judge and all parties, Assistant State Attorney Hamid Hunter took the podium to address the jury.

"This story is about the perfect marriage, the perfect friendship, the murder," he said.

RELATED: How to watch the trial online

He described how Dr. Mark Patrites went to the Sievers home after Teresa did not show up at work. He had been given the code to enter the home by Mark Sievers, who was out of town at the time. "As the door went up, he noticed the door into the laundry room and into the home was open, a dog came running out. He thought it was odd the door was open. Dr. Patrites called out to Teresa but no answer. As he approached the kitchen he saw something on the floor. He realized it was his friend, Teresa Sievers. He noticed a lot of blood and injuries on her head. She wasn't moving and was lifeless. He reached down and put his hand on her back and she was cold. He knew his friend was dead."

He says the Lee County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene. "They weren't able to locate any leads right away. The home appeared to be in good order, nothing was missing. Her wallet was there still as well as money and electronics. There was money in the desk, on a mount on the wall. There were guns."

"Next to Dr. Sievers was a hammer, just behind her with hair on the hammer."

Then a break to the case came from Missouri. "Mark Sievers is from Missouri. Detectives will say that they took what they thought would be a one day trip ended up being a much longer trip. The began to follow one lead to another lead that led them to Curtis Wright and Jimmy Rodgers."

"An investigation into Mr. Wright led to Mr. Rodgers. Dectectives went to Rodgers' home and asked him if he knew anything if he knew anything about Teresa and Mark Sievers. He said no and denied going to Florida. Those statements turned out to not be true."

He described how surveillance images in Florida proved Rodgers had traveled to the state. Rodgers also asked his employer he needed time off from work.

Another big break came when Taylor Shomaker contacted law enforcement. "She became suspicious of her boyfriend for a couple of reasons: He told her he had been out of town. The next clue came after the initial visit from detectives to Rodgers, he did something unusual, he took his cellphone and soaked into water and broke it into pieces and threw it out the window."

Members of Teresa Sievers' family were present in the courtroom, and were very emotional as the prosecutor recounted details of what deputies found in the house.

Jimmy Rodgers murder trial: Prosecution Opening Statement

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Opening statements in the Jimmy Rodgers murder trial begin Thursday morning. Prosecutors say Rodgers and another man killed Bonita Springs doctor Teresa Sievers in her home back in 2015.

Sievers' husband, Mark, will go on trial next. He's accused of hiring the men to kill his wife.

Opening statements are really important because they show the jury a roadmap for how the trial is going to look. It's at this point, we'll get a clearer look at the strategy for the state and the defense, and how they will make their case.

But attorney Mike Chionopoulos says the lawyers for both sides often forget something very important, that could change the outcome of the case. "What some lawyers don't do is come back and tie it up at the end. Because this is going to be a fairly long trial. I mean the judge has scheduled five weeks for this trial. I don't know that it will take five weeks, but that's a long time. And as a juror if you hear info in opening statements, the first few days of trial and five weeks later you’re hearing summation, the lawyers have to tie it back together. Remember in opening statements, the prosecutor told you he was going to prove ‘xyz’, the evidence will show...well the evidence didn't show, here's what it shows. So they're setting up the finale with opening statements and it's critical."

So here's how the opening statement phase of the trial works. The prosecution will go first. It's their job to prove Jimmy Rodgers is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Then the defense will give their opening statement. Their job is to convince the jury that Rodgers is not guilty.

Fox is covering this trial extensively and plan to stream it live on our website, Facebook page, and on streaming devices.

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