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Accused Valentine killer defends self

Prosecutors in the case of Tony Sexton described him as a manipulative freeloader who moved into the co-operative at 108-17 160th St. in Jamaica owned by his girlfriend Rosanna Rodgers and her 57-year-old mother Maria just seven months before her fatal beating Feb. 14, 2003.The jury trial for the nearly four-year-old killing began Jan. 11 with opening statements before State Supreme Court Justice Robert Hanophy."On the day in question the defendant was just locked away working in his work space," said Sexton, 37, referring to himself. "Some would say just because I am in the house I am guilty." He questioned the investigation: "I am complaining that things were popping up that weren't there before."Prosecutor Brad Leventhal provided a detailed timeline of the events, describing Sexton as a selfish loafer."On a day when most people are out buying flowers or cards" for loved ones on Valentine's Day, "the defendant Tony Sexton was busy beating his girlfriend's mother to death," Assistant District Attorney Leventhal said.He described personal tension between Sexton and his girlfriend's mother and sister Laurie Rodgers. In fact, Sexton filed an order of protection against the sister after she called numerous times telling him to move out, Leventhal said. The court order prohibited her from visiting her mother's building, he said.On Feb. 12 Rosanna boarded a bus for a vacation in Florida, leaving Sexton at the apartment with her 9-year-old son and mother.Maria Rodgers, 57, was beaten about her head with a blunt object, before her head was wrapped in a plastic bag to suffocate her, prosecutors said. Her body was then wrapped in a floral loveseat slipcover and placed in a plastic garbage bag, he said. The next day the bag was put0 in the back seat of her own car, which was abandonded a mile away at on 148th Street and 95th Avenue, Leventhal said.Laurie Rodgers became worried on Feb. 15 when her mother did not show up to meet her, but the order of protection kept her from visiting the house to see how she was, the prosecutor said.A few days later on Feb. 19, the youngest of the three sisters, Theresa, a student at State University of New York Buffalo, came to Jamaica to find her mother and filed a missing persons report, Leventhal said.Rosanna Rodgers returned from Florida on Feb. 21, and noticed that the floral slipcover was missing and there was a bleach stain on the wall-to-wall carpeting, he said.The next day Sexton denied he knew anything about the mother's disappearance, but the following day he admitted in a written statement that he killed her and told police where they could find the body, leading to his arrest, prosecutors said.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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