The man who murdered a 20-year-old Cahokia man in 2007 learned Tuesday that he will spend 45 years in prison for it.
Before the sentence was announced, Assistant State's Attorney Nicole Rice said, "the people of this community need to know that this type of senseless violence will have severe consequences and will be dealt with harshly."
Kenny Wicks Jr. was sentenced in St. Clair County Court and then taken away to his jail cell.
Wicks was convicted of the first-degree murder of James Earl Rogers, formerly of 14 Frontenac, Apartment 2, who was found dead inside his apartment by a friend who was also a co-worker.
When Rogers failed to show up for work and didn't answer calls from work, office workers asked the friend to check on him. "The friend called and didn't get an answer, so he went to the apartment and found Rogers' body," Cahokia Police Chief James Jones said.
The friend called the Police Department at 1 p.m. "We activated the Major Case Squad, but it was deactivated after five days because of a lack of leads, and the case was given back to the Cahokia Police Department. We continued investigating and almost a year later on June 16, 2008, we interviewed a subject who had information regarding Rogers' murder. The investigation led us to three people," Jones said. Two others are in jail awaiting court hearings. They are 29-year-old Demond Eckford and 29-year-old Dontez Crumble.
An emotional Bobbi Rogers said her son was a good kid and she will never stop missing him, his ways, his hugs, his warm smile and tantalizing eyes. Reacting to the 45-year sentence given to Wicks, Rogers said "Justice! It's way past due. I thank God for it. Our family really appreciates it very much."
Choking back tears, she said "We are grateful to (St. Clair County) Assistant State's Attorney Nicole Rice, Assistant State's Attorney Debbie Phillips, Assistant State's Attorney Jim Piper and State's Attorney Brendan Kelly for their work on my son's case."
Rogers also said she was grateful for the work of St. Clair County Assistant State's Attorney Judy Dalan and Cahokia Police Lt. David Plew.
Rogers had just come home from the hairdresser when she got the news of her son's death, which has forever changed her and her family's lives.
"I couldn't understand what was going on. I got the phone call as soon as I got home. I dropped the phone and rushed around to my baby son's apartment. I saw the yellow crime scene tape and then I knew," she said.
"It was the worst pain that I ever felt. They (police) wouldn't let me get to my baby. They had it blocked off," she said.
Rogers said she was somewhat frustrated because no one would talk and say who had killed her son. "But, I put it in God's hands and prayed that the person who killed my child would be found," she said.
"I would never want another mother or family to go through what I and my family are going through. The holidays are especially hard. We set the table and everyone is gathered around except him and his plate," Rogers said.
"He wanted to be an entrepreneur and own his own business. His daddy was a painter and he wanted to be a painter and be the president of his company," Rogers said.
Rogers said she had three sons and three daughters and one foster son, who James Rogers wanted her to adopt.
"After he was killed, I adopted him. His name is Alexander Rogers. My son always said he was his brother, and he is," she said.
State's Attorney Kelly said, "Four years after this murder, this case was going nowhere. With a careful and deliberate charging and negotiation strategy of the co-defendants, James' killer has been brought to justice."