Cary Piel serves as Special ProsecutorNBC News correspondent (needs backend)
By Keith G. King
The Weekly News
GAINESVILLE – Roger Clark, 45, was found guilty of first degree felony murder Dec. 5 and sentenced to 90 years in a state facility by a Cooke County jury Dec. 11.
Clark was found guilty of the Feb. 15, 2008 murder of Patrick Fleitman, 26, of Era.
Trial in the 235th District Court began Dec. 2, but was delayed Dec. 6 and Dec. 9 because of the ice storm that hit Cooke County.
The guilty verdict for Clark was announced Dec. 5 after the jury deliberated for approximately three hours.
District Judge Janelle Haverkamp reconvened the jury for the sentencing
trial Dec. 10.
The jury was charged with deciding punishment which ranged from a life sentence to a set number of years from five to 99 and a possible fine not to exceed $10,000.
Cooke County District Attorney Janice Warder, special prosecutor Cary Piel of Denton and attorney Eric Erlandson of Gainesville were the prosecutors for the trial.
Clark was defended by attorney Roger Williams of Nocona.
According to the prosecution, Fleitman was killed in front of his home in Era after being shot twice by a shot gun – once in the back and once in the front to the head. The shooter used a slug and double-aught buckshot.
Piel said that Fleitman was getting ready to go out and waiting for Clark. Th e two were set to leave about 10:30 p.m. Piel said that Fleitman’s pickup was found the next day out of gas with the ignition on, which indicates that Fleitman was warming up his truck that cold night.
Fleitman was found in his front yard Feb. 16.
Clark was arrested for the murder in March 2008, but was not indicted by the then district attorney and Clark was released after 90 days.
Piel and former Cooke County Sheriff’s Department Investigator J.P. Patterson re-opened the cold case.
Clark was indicted by Warder for the murder in October 2012.
During the sentencing trial, Piel talked to the jury about the milestones the victim missed and what kind of life the victim had left. “You decide what kind of message you send to your community,” Piel told the jury.
“Whatever the number is, Roger (Clark) will have time to think, at least half of whatever the number is,” Williams told the jury. “Time to reflect on what he’s lost, time to reflect on what changes the need to be made, time to reflect on what incentives to make change, time to reflect on how to become a whole man instead of the broken man you see here.”
“Make no mistake – none of you should feel bad about the verdict,” Warder told the jury. “It’s society’s right to be free from the type of violence that happened Feb. 15, 2008.
Warder also reminded the jury that Clark was buying the same type of shotgun ammunition Feb. 11, 2008, four days before the murder.
Haverkamp dismissed the jury to deliberate the punishment. The jury then returned with the sentence of 90 years in a state facility.