A Pennsylvania woman who allegedly killed her boyfriend and then told police that she did it because of a cult has been sentenced to up to 40 years behind bars.
Barbara Rogers, 44, was found guilty of third-degree murder in March, nearly two years after authorities say she shot and killed her boyfriend, Steven Mineo, in his home, according to WNEP, an ABC affiliate based in Scranton. Rogers and Mineo were both members of the online cult “Sherry Shriner,” and Rogers claimed that things with the cult had gotten so bad that Mineo wanted her to end his life for him.
A judge on Monday sentenced Rogers to 15 to 40 years in prison, according to another report from WNEP. Prosecutors sought the maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years behind bars, while Rogers’ defense argued in favor of leniency for the mother of three, citing her military service and lack of prior offenses, the outlet reports.
The verdict drew mixed reactions from those most effected by the case. The victim’s mother, Donna Mineo, called the sentence “totally unfair” while his aunt, Jackie Mineo, said it was “amazing” that Rogers was found guilty of third-degree murder rather than murder in the first, local outlet BRC-13 reports.
Rogers also seemed dissatisfied with the sentence.
“We are most likely going to be appealing it. It was very unfair,” she told reporters after the ruling, according to WNEP.
The “Sherry Shriner” cult, of which both Rogers and Mineo were both members, is an organization that believes that reptiles from space will bring about the apocalypse, according to The New Republic.
Prosecutors claimed that on the night of Mineo’s death, Rogers and Mineo had gone to a nearby bar, where they stayed until 2 a.m. before returning to Mineo’s place near Tobyhanna, WNEP reports. Once they were there, Mineo suggested that they shoot his gun in the woods near his home. Rogers said that once they went back inside, Mineo held the gun to his head, placed her hands around it, and instructed her to pull the trigger, according to the outlet.
Rogers, who claimed to have not known that the gun was loaded, called 911 after the shooting, WNEP reports. She told dispatchers, “My boyfriend had a gun. He told me to hold it here and press the trigger. Oh my God, he’s dead!”
Rogers told reporters on Monday that she was “not in control” of what happened on July 15, 2017, BRC-13 reports.
“I was not the dominating party in that situation,” she said.
Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Kroeckel said that he would have liked for Rogers’ sentence to be longer, according to WNEP.
“You go back to the scene and you have the victim with a gunshot wound, point blank to the middle of his forehead, so close that there's burns around the wound, there's the star pattern in his forehead,” he said. “Who knows what could happen in 15 years from now when she gets out? Who knows what could happen when she's in state prison? So we would have liked to see her get more, but we understand why she did what she did,” he said.
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