Rodgers pleads not guilty in 16-year-old’s overdose death
Mark Anthony Rodgers Jr., 32, pleaded not guilty Thursday to Class AA felony murder in the fentanyl and methamphetamine overdose death of a 16-year-old girl at a Minot hotel on Dec. 14, 2020.
Rodgers also pleaded not guilty to Class C felony tampering with physical evidence, Class C felony maintaining a premises for the use of illegal drugs, Class C felony corruption of a minor, and Class A misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
During a preliminary hearing, Minot Police Detective Robbie Sumlin testified that multiple witnesses said Rodgers had rented the hotel room for the girl, who has not been publicly identified. Sumlin testified that Rodgers told at least two friends he had been having sexual relations with her. After the girl overdosed, Sumlin testified, Rodgers called several friends and asked them to bring Narcan to the hotel to reverse the overdose but Rodgers refused to call 911. One of his friends who came to the hotel ended up calling 911 himself. Rodgers left the room before the emergency responders arrived, carrying a duffel bag that possibly contained the girl’s clothing and her two cell phones. Sumlin said police have never been able to recover the cell phones or the other evidence. Rodgers allegedly told two friends that he had given the girl a “hot shot,” which other drug users told Sumlin means a potentially lethal shot that can cause a drug overdose. Rodgers is a heavy drug user and drug dealer with ties to drug dealers in Michigan, according to Sumlin, and would have known what he was giving the girl. Rodgers allegedly told one of his friends he had shot the girl up to make her more amorous, according to Sumlin.
Rodgers’ defense attorney, Steven Mottinger, argued that there isn’t enough evidence to prove the charges. He said Rodgers did seek Narcan to try to revive the girl and there is no physical evidence to prove the other charges. The witnesses referenced by Sumlin are all drug users with criminal records. Sumlin testified that they have been cooperative with police in this case because a 16-year-old girl died. The prosecution said the murder charge does not require proof that Rodgers intended for the girl to die.
North Central District Court Judge Stacy Louser found probable cause for the case to move forward. The next hearing in the case is a pre-trial conference scheduled for May 12 before Louser.