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Bomb-spree accomplice gets 3 years in prison

A federal judge has sentenced Paula Castillo Rogers to three years in prison for her role in a bombing and robbery spree in St. George two years ago.

"You terrorized the city of St. George," U.S. District Judge Dee Benson told Rogers on Tuesday.Rogers, 31, had pleaded guilty to one count of malicious destruction of a building and admitted to being an accomplice of Sean Riker. Riker has pleaded guilty to detonating five bombs in St. George businesses and the two have admitted to a string of robberies.

Her attorney, Greg Stevens, asked Benson for leniency, claiming that Rogers played a minor role in the crime spree and was coerced into participating through beatings she received from Riker.

"I was involved in a lot of that but I was scared of him," Rogers said. "He did beat me up a lot and put me in the hospital. . . . He threatened my kids if I didn't stay."

Stevens also said Rogers was enrolled in Narcotics Anonymous to try to kick a drug habit.

Benson was dubious of her explanation. He ran down a list of 14 robberies of southern Utah businesses and residences in which she and Riker are suspects, asking if she played a part in each. She admitted involvement in six.

The state has agreed not to prosecute Rogers in those robberies.

Benson said that the fact she chose not to take part in eight alleged robberies indicates that Riker did not exercise excessive control and chastised her for offering "some 1990s excuse that you were being bullied and coerced by your boyfriend."

"I find quite to the contrary," Benson said. "You were in this up to your eyeballs."

Benson sentenced Rogers to 36 months in prison and an additional three years on supervised release. She also must participate in a psychiatric-health program and a drug and alcohol testing program and pay $59,452 restitution.

"I think (36) months is light, and it's a good thing you didn't get caught and prosecuted on the others, or you could be spending the rest of your life in prison," Benson said.

Since her arrest, Rogers has spent the 21 months in Salt Lake County Jail. She will be in a federal prison for the duration of her sentence, said Stevens.

Riker has pleaded guilty to five counts of use of an explosive device. Prosecutors plan to seek a prison sentence of more than 11 years at his Oct. 27 sentencing.

Riker admitted to detonating bombs at Star Flag and Display on July 31, 1995; at Dixie Auto Sales on Aug. 4, 1995; at Woodward Elementary School on Aug. 5, 1995; and at Agave bookstore on Sept. 23, 1995. Two bombs were set off at the school.

Rogers admitted to acting as a lookout and buying supplies for Riker in at least four bombings.