Man given 19 years in drug-related killing

2013-03-06T00:00:00Z 2013-03-06T11:05:10Z Man given 19 years in drug-related killingKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A Tucsonan who shot a friend to death and desecrated his body told the man's family he wishes he could bring him back.

"He didn't deserve to die like that, and I understand that now," Nicholas Phillip Rogers, 24, told Todd Whitzel's parents just before he was sentenced Monday to 19 years in prison.

Whitzel's burned and dismembered remains were found in Avra Valley in October 2011 after an informant told sheriff's detectives he helped Rogers with the body after Rogers shot Whitzel in May 2011.

Investigators learned Rogers owed Whitzel $3,000 for a drug debt, and Rogers killed Whitzel, who was asleep at the time.

Rogers pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was facing between 14 and 22 years in prison.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Heather Siegele said Rogers tried to arrange the death of three witnesses in the case while awaiting trial.

Rogers would've handled Whitzel's threats differently if he hadn't had mental health disorders and been on drugs and alcohol, Assistant Pima County Public Defender Don Klein said.

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