Elderly Suspect in 1987 Cold-Case Murder Having Memory Problems, Lawyer Says; Fingerprints Confirm Man's ID

An 82-year-old suspect in a 1987 murder is suffering from memory problems and requires a competency hearing, according to the man's attorney.

Recent paperwork filed in court also clears up confusion about the suspect's name: His real name is Richard Earl Rodgers, but his fingerprints are the same as the Roger Cook's, the man Phoenix police arrested in 1987 following a fatal shooting.

Police accuse Rodgers of shooting 22-year-old Terrance Keenan, who was unarmed, without justificatio while the young man visited Rodgers' apartment complex.

Rodgers, known to be a confrontational curmudgeon at the complex (boarded up years ago) was released within days of the shooting.

He soon disappeared and spent 22 years on the lam.

Last year, a Phoenix cold-case detective, with the help of the U.S. Marshal's Office, tracked down the wheelchair-bound Rodgers at an assisted-living apartment in Long Beach, California, and got him extradited to Maricopa County.

But sometimes justice delayed is justice denied.

"I have found his memory to be sketchy," writes John Curry, Rodgers' legal defender, in a motion asking for the competency hearing. "Rather than focus on the issues at hand, he tends to recount highly dubious tales of adventures in the military, with police and federal agents and with Mafioso all around the country."

Maybe faking dementia is Rodgers' latest attempt at avoiding prosecution.

Or maybe this case is just... too cold.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern