New Trial Granted for 1998 Slaying

Robert Courchesne, who has been serving a death sentence for the stabbing death of Demetris Rodgers in 1998 and the death of her unborn baby, will get a new trial.

The state Supreme Court released a 108-page decision on Friday.

Demetris Rogers was eight and a half months pregnant when Courchesne stabbed her multiple times over a $365 drug debt that he owed her boyfriend, according to court documents.

She ran and was taken to Waterbury Hospital, where she died from her injuries. An ER physician performed an emergency cesaren section and delivered Antonia Rodgers, who was immediately put on life support. She remained on life support for 42 days before being taken off. The baby died within two hours.  

The focus of the new trial will be whether Rogers’ fetus or child was born alive.

The court, looking at previous cases, determined that the pre-existing common law did not recognize the killing of an unborn child as a homicide.

“There is evidence that the fetus was not born alive,” attorney John Holdridge, who represented Robert Courchesne, said by telephone on Friday.

When the fetus was delivered, Holdridge said, it was brain dead and not breathing.

“The child was kept alive through artificial means,” he said.

The decision has no bearing on Courchesne’s conviction for killing Demetris Rogers.

What this means for Courchesne is that he is no long under the sentence of death, but he does remain on death row, Holdridge said.

If he is not convicted during his next trial, he would be eligible for life without parole.

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