By Courtney Dentch
A South Jamaica poet was charged Monday with bludgeoning his girlfriend's mother to death on Valentine's Day after a long-running feud, the Queens district attorney said.
Tony Sexton, 33, allegedly murdered Maria Rogers, 57, placed her body in her car and parked it less than 10 blocks away from the cooperative apartment at 108-17 160th St. in South Jamaica that Rogers shared with her daughters and grandson, according to the criminal complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens.
Sexton was charged with murder, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence, the complaint said.
He pleaded not guilty Monday night and was taken into custody, said a spokeswoman from the DA's office.
Rogers had been trying to evict Sexton from the home that he took control of after Rosanna Rogers, Maria's daughter and Sexton's girlfriend, invited him to live with the family, said Theresa Rogers, Maria's youngest daughter.
“It didn't feel like home anymore,” said Theresa Rogers, 27. “She told him you shouldn't stay where you're not wanted.”
Rogers' body was found in the back seat of her car, a light purple Hyundai, at 97th Avenue and 148th Street Sunday, police said. Rogers was beaten in the head with a blunt object and wrapped in plastic, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner's office.
Rogers was reported missing on Feb. 19, but Theresa Rogers said the family last saw her on Feb. 9. Maria Rogers, who worked as a home health aide, had been staying in Brooklyn after Sexton filed harassment charges against her following a fight, Theresa Rogers said.
“She was kept from her own house,” she said. “My mom was very unhappy about him staying here. She didn't like him from the start.”
Sexton attacked Rogers about 11 a.m. on Valentine's Day, striking her in the head with a blunt object, according to the criminal complaint. He wrapped her body in plastic sheets and used bleach to clean blood stains out of the carpet in the living room of her South Jamaica home, the complaint said.
The problems between Sexton and Rogers started over the summer, when Rosanna Rogers, 33, invited Sexton to move in with the family, Theresa Rogers said. Sexton and Rosanna Rogers met in Brooklyn, and Sexton wooed her with his poetry, she said. Within a month Rosanna Rogers invited him to move into the three-bedroom South Jamaica co-op.
Although Maria Rogers did not want him in her house, she was still nice to him, offering him rides to family functions, Theresa Rogers said.
“She was still kind to him,” she said. “She was not angry about it.”
But that's just who she was, the youngest daughter said.
“She was always helpful to people,” she said. “She was always willing to lend a hand, always thinking about other people.”
Rogers emigrated from Guatemala with her husband, and worked as a chef in New Orleans before moving to New York on her own to raise her three daughters, Theresa Rogers said. The family lived in a small attic space the first year, then an apartment in Richmond Hill, and finally the co-op in South Jamaica, she said.
“She was a hardworking woman,” Theresa Rogers said. “She built her way up. She was a strong woman.”
Rogers' funeral was scheduled for Saturday at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, her daughter said.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.