ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Abilene community, though still mourning the loss of a giant, can call the case closed in the death of Mark Rogers. Thursday afternoon, James Wells was found guilty for Intoxicated Manslaughter and Aggravated Assault. The following afternoon, he received his sentencing and Rogers’ widow, Jennifer Rogers, was able to address Wells.
Mark Rogers was an Abilene Christian University graduate and prominent leader in the Key City, serving as Market President for Big Brothers Big Sisters Abilene for five years, where his work touched countless lives.
Saturday, March 13, 2021. That was the day 39-year-old Mark Rogers was killed when Wells’ vehicle slammed into the back of Roger’s pickup truck in Abilene. His wife and their three children were passengers, but survived. Two of the children made out with serious injuries.
A month later, a traffic investigation revealed that Wells was driving at the speed of 127 miles per hour when he collided with the Rogers family. It was also reported that he was under the influence of tranquilizers at the time. It was at that time that Wells was arrested.
It would be a long, difficult battle in and out of court for both the Rogers and the Wells families. Two years passed before a verdict was delivered.
With an incredibly heavy, emotional quietness in the courtroom, the judge called Jennifer Rogers to the stand to give her Victim Impact Statement.
From both families and loved ones, you could hear sniffles and quieted whimpers from tearing up as Mrs. Rogers addressed Wells.
“Mr. Wells, my family forever changed March 2021,” Rogers began. Looking back to that day, Rogers said she had lost her husband and her children lost their loving dad.
Reading from her phone, she reminded the courtroom, “He was funny, he was God-fearing… We miss him every day.”
“It was not hard to forgive you,” Rogers insisted. She told Wells it was almost immediate that she and her children forgave him.
As soon as her 10-year-old daughter could speak again following her injuries after the crash, Rogers said she’d say this prayer every night:
“‘Dear God, thank you for Mom [and siblings]… Be with James Wells… Please tell Daddy I love him.’”
Rogers concluded, “Although you’ve been found guilty, your life is worth living… Mr. Wells, you have been forgiven.”
Friday, March 31, 2023, a Taylor County jury sentenced James Wells to life in prison without fine for his charge of Intoxicated Manslaughter with a prior felony conviction. For his charge of Aggravated Assault with a prior felony conviction, he was sentenced to 75 years in prison without fine. The judge accepted the jury’s verdicts and ordered him to pay court costs at a later date.