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Dennis Ray ROARK





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Arson
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: February 3, 1989
Date of birth: April 12, 1963
Victims profile: Mary Waggoner, 19 (live-in girlfriend); Dennis Waggoner, 20 months, and Elizabeth Waggoner. 4 months (children of Mary Waggoner and Roark); Betty Waggoner, 61 (mother of girlfriend)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Lake County, Indiana, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on October 17, 1989. Resentenced to 200 years in prison on December 19, 1994

ROARK, DENNIS RAY # 63 & # 76


DOB: 04-12-1963
892138 White Male

Lake County Superior Court
Judge James L. Clement

Prosecutor: John J. Burke

Defense: Alexander Woloshansky

Date of Murder: February 3, 1989

Victim(s): Mary Waggoner W/F/19 (live-in girlfriend); Dennis Waggoner W/M/20 months, Elizabeth Waggoner W/F/4 months (children of Mary Waggoner and Roark); Betty Waggoner W/F/61 (mother of girlfriend)

Method of Murder: stabbing with knife (all); smoke inhalation (Dennis); burns (Elizabeth)

Summary: Roark lived with his girldriend, Mary Waggoner, at the home of her mother, Betty Waggoner, along with their two children aged 20 months and 4 months.

Roark returned to the home after a night of drinking at 5:00 a.m. and told Mary that he would rather leave the home than be yelled at by her mother.

Betty decided to leave with him and take the kids. Betty grabbed the 20 month old son and told them she would kill herself if they left. she then lunged at Roark with a knife. Roark wrestled the knife away from her, then proceeded to stab Betty, Mary, and the two children multiple times, then fled.

The house was later set on fire. (insanity defense)

Trial: PC Affidavit filed (02-03-89); Information/PC for Murder and DP filed (02-07-89); Gag Order entered (02-09-89); Voir Dire (09-25-89, 09-26-89); Jury Trial (09-26-89, 09-27-89, 09-28-89); Verdict (09-28-89); DP Trial (09-29-89) Verdict (09-29-89); Court Sentencing (10-17-89); Voir Dire on Remand (08-17-92); Jury Trial (08-18-92, 08-19-92, 08-20-92, 08-21-92); Verdict (08-21-92); DP Trial (08-21-92); Verdict (08-21-92); Court Sentencing (10-29-92).

Conviction: Murder (3 counts), Voluntary Manslaughter (Betty)

Sentencing: October 17, 1989 (Death Sentence)

Aggravating Circumstances: b(8) 4 murders; b(12) 2 victims less than 12 years of age

Mitigating Circumstances: no prior criminal record, drug and alcohol abuse, alcoholism, extreme mental and emotional disturbance, father was alcoholic who abused his mother, model prisoner for 3 1/2 years awaiting trial, murder weapon was introduced by victim

Direct Appeal:

Roark v. State
, 573 N.E.2d 881 (Ind. June 21, 1991)
Conviction Reversed 5-0; DP Vacated 5-0
(Should have instructed on Voluntary Manslaughter)
Shepard Opinion: Debruler, Givan, Dickson, Krahulik concur.

Judge Overrides Jury Recommendation against Death Sentence

On Remand:

Voir Dire (08-17-92); Jury Trial (08-18-92, 08-19-92, 08-20-92, 08-21-92); Verdict (08-21-92), DP Trial (08-21-92); Verdict (08-21-92); Court DP Sentencing (10-29-92).

Roark was convicted of Murder (3 counts) and Voluntary Manslaughter (Betty), and despite a jury recommendation against a Death Sentence was sentenced to death (Murder) and 50 years (Voluntary Manslaughter) by Judge James L. Clement on 10-29-92.

Direct Appeal:

Roark v. State, 644 N.E.2d 565 (Ind. December 19, 1994)
Conviction Affirmed 5-0; DP Vacated 3-2
Sullivan Opinion; Debruler, Dickson concur; Shepard, Givan dissent.
(Judge findings overriding jury recommendation fails to meet Martinez test, due to "impressive" testimony of defense psychologist regarding defendant's IQ of 72 and poor impulse control; 50+50+50+50=200 year term of imprisonment imposed by Supreme Court)


Dennis Ray Roark



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