Case # 14WF4214
Date: February 23, 2018
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole today for the special circumstances stabbing-murder of a café employee while the victim was cleaning the business.
Defendant: Robert Gabriel Rodgers, 23, Anaheim
Found guilty by a jury on Oct. 3, 2017, of:
- One felony count of first degree murder
Sentencing Enhancements Found True
- Special circumstances – lying in wait
Personal use of a knife
Pleaded guilty on Sept. 20, 2017, to:
- One felony count of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury
- Sentencing Enhancement – Causing great bodily injury
Sentence: Life in state prison without the possibility of parole, plus seven years
Circumstances of the Case
- On Nov. 14, 2014, at approximately 5:00 a.m., Rodgers pushed his mother down the stairs into the parking garage and continued to assault her near their Anaheim residence.
- At approximately 9:30 a.m., Rodgers waited outside of the Volcano Tea House in Garden Grove prior to the business opening and lured 24-year-old employee Cesar Ramirez-Raphael to the door by pretending to need help.
- The defendant stabbed Ramirez-Raphael, whom he did not know, multiple times with knives in both hands.
- Rodgers dragged Ramirez-Raphael into a back room during the attack and placed the victim’s body in a trash can, where he died as a result of multiple stab wounds.
- The defendant attempted to clean the scene and called 911.
- Another employee arrived outside of the business and Rodgers attempted to lure her inside.
- The second employee locked the defendant inside the café from the outside.
- The Garden Grove Police Department, who investigated this case, arrived and arrested the defendant.
- At the sentencing today, Teresa M., a family member of the victim spoke, on behalf of his relatives and friends. “He believed in his brother and sister’s educational goals and wanted to always help in any way for them to reach them, even if it meant sending 50% of his monthly earnings,” she stated in part. “He wanted to live the classic American dream, and provide a better life for his family and himself.”
Prosecutor: Senior Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Herrera, Homicide Unit