Man Sentenced to 13 Years in Deadly DUI Crash

By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro Email

Tallahassee, FL - After hearing testimony from both sides, the court sentenced Griffith to 13 years in prison for DUI manslaughter.

WCTV will bring you more on the story tonight on Eyewitness News.


Tallahassee, FL - November 13, 2012 by Julie Montanaro

Jordan Griffith has entered a no contest plea to DUI manslaughter charges in the death of Brooks Rogers.

Griffith is accused of driving drunk and crashing into Rogers' car on Tharpe Street, Halloween night 2011.

Griffith was under age at the time and tests show his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

A sentencing date has not been set. He faces a maximum of 23 years in prison.


UPDATED 3.14.2012 6:30pm by Julie Montanaro

There is finally an arrest in a deadly drunk driving crash that killed an FSU student.

Jordan Griffith is accused of having a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit that night in October.

"I asked him he'd been drinking that night, he said yes. He admitted it. He admitted that he was underage," recalled eyewitness Cealey Godwin.

Cealey Godwin saw the crash in her rear view mirror and actually talked to accused drunk driver Jordan Griffith in the moments after the crash.

She is glad he's finally been arrested.

"Even though it's not going to bring Brooks back, but hopefully it'll bring a little bit of peace to his family," Godwin said.

23 year old Brooks Rogers was a designated driver that night.

He was driving friends home from a Halloween party, when witnesses say a speeding silver Infiniti made a sharp left turn right into his car.

Griffith is now charged with vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter in Rogers' death. He also faces charges of DUI with serious bodily injury and DUI with bodily injury for the injuries to passengers in Rogers' car.

"It's kind of a bummer because I'm sure he didn't intend for any of this to happen, but sometimes you do have to be responsible for your acts," said Anthony Clement who saw the crash that night.

FDLE tests in December showed Griffith's blood alcohol level was point-173 and DNA tests last week confirmed he was the one behind the wheel.

"The person's DNA that was on the steering wheel and the curtain air bag was Mr. Griffith's," TPD spokesman David Northway said.

Brooks Rogers parents say they were not surprised it took police more than four months to arrest Griffith. His father said police had given them a timeline and this was actually sooner than expected.

Sam Rogers called Griffith's arrest "another step in what will certainly be a lifelong process of learning to live without Brooks and all that he would have accomplished."

He sent this statement:

"On behalf of Brooks’ family and friends we want to thank the Tallahassee Police Department for the care and speed that they handled this investigation. We also want to thank our friends and the entire community for the incredible support and compassion they have given us during these last few months. Brooks’ would have been proud of just how many lives he touched."

Prosecutors say Griffith faces up to 22 years in prison if he's convicted.

Court records show Griffith bonded out of jail just before two this afternoon. His attorney had no comment.


UPDATED 3.14.2012 Noon by Julie Montanaro

Tallahassee Police have just made an arrest in a deadly drunk driving crash.

The arrest comes nearly five months after a collision on Tharpe Street claimed the life of Brooks Rogers. Witnesses say the driver made a sharpe left turn right in front of Rogers' car.

20 year old Jordan Griffith is accused of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter.

FDLE tests pegged his blood alcohol level at point-173 and DNA tests completed last week show Griffith was in the drivers seat that night.

Griffith turned himself in at the Leon County Jail at about 11 o'clock last night. His attorney says his family drove up from Tampa as soon as the arrest warrant was issued.

Court records show a judge set Griffith's bond at $62,000. Among the conditions? No driving and no alcohol.


[UPDATE] 3-14 -

A deadly crash that claimed the life of an FSU student in October 2011 leads to the arrest of 21-year-old Jordan Griffith.

According to the Tallahassee Police Department, Mr. Griffith was involved in a traffic crash at Tharpe Street and Devra Drive on October 30th, 2011. In the crash, 23-year-old Brooks Rogers was fatally injured. Mr. Griffith is currently in the Leon County Jail.

The probable cause is attached in PDF format above.


[UPDATE] 11-3 - Noon -

The family of an FSU student killed in a car crash on October 30th are saying their final goodbyes. Funeral services for 23-year-old Samuel "Brooks" Rogers were held at 11:00am today at Trinity United Methodist Church. Rogers died in a head-on crash on Tharpe Street. A police report indicates the other driver had a blood alcohol level of .24, which is three times the legal limit.

This morning, Rogers's grandfather released a statement, saying, in his words:

"On behalf, of Brooks' parents, Sam and Laura, his younger brothers Donnie and Andy and our entire family, I can only say there are really no words to express the depth of our gratitude to the community for its outpouring of love, support and prayers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Brooks' friends, Sterling Mixon and J.R. Ervin, as well as the other young men involved. Each family will be forever impacted by this senseless, preventable tragedy. Too many families in our community, and country, have experienced pain of the deepest magnitude as the result of their child and grandchild being victims of drivers under the influence."


UPDATED 11.2.2011 by Julie Montanaro

A deadly crash that claimed the life of an FSU student over the weekend is still under investigation.

Tallahassee Police say it could be weeks before they decide on any charges.

23 year old Brooks Rogers lost his life in a head on crash Sunday.

The police report released yesterday shows the other driver had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit, but he has not been cited or charged.

Car parts are still strewn in the ditch along Tharpe Street. There's orange paint on the pavement nearby.

All mark the spot where Brooks Rogers lost his life early Sunday morning.

Anthony Clement was just a few cars back and saw the whole thing.

"It was a very sharp and harsh turn towards the left and uh, he invaded our lane and hit the car. It spun right into the ditch," Clement said.

Police reports released Tuesday indicate Rogers' car was hit head on by a silver Infiniti driven by 20 year old Jordan Griffith. The police report indicates Griffith's blood alcohol level was .24

Yet Griffith hasn't been arrested or charged with anything at this point.
Police say it could take weeks to evaluate all the evidence and get back the necessary lab results.

"Why wouldn't he be charged with DUI at this point?"

"That can appear to be a little confusing but again we have our policies and procedures in place for that specific reason. So we don't make any rash decisions and when a case is of the nature that this one is, we, again, want to make sure we have everything," said TPD Spokesman Dave Northway.

Anthony Clement's car was rear-ended when he slammed on brakes to avoid the wreck. He says a few seconds later and it could have been him.

"After seeing this like, I'm still afraid of getting in a car right now and going anywhere, so. It hits you and you know, sometimes you have to live your life through the death of others unfortunately," Clement said.

Clement says ironically, he was on the road that night because he had gone to pick up his friends at a Halloween party. He says his friends called him for a ride because they had been drinking and didn't want to drive.

Eyewitness Cealey Godwin was also picking up a friend from a party when she saw the Inifiniti rush through the light. She saw the crash
in her rear view mirror. She didn't realize until the next day that her friend Brooks Rogers was the one who died in the crash.

"It was hard taking that in, being there and not knowing that it was my friend. And it was really, really difficult and it's not fair at all," she said.

Godwin called 911 and helped to pull the other driver from his car that night. All he talked about, she said, was wanting to go home.

"It's not fair. It's something so preventable. All you have to do is call a taxi, or call a friend, " Godwin said.


Tallahassee, Florida - November 2, 2011 -

The police report from the crash that killed FSU student Brooks Rogers indicates the other driver was drunk. In fact, Tallahassee Police say his blood alcohol level was three times the legal drinking limit.

Tallahassee Police released the initial crash report yesterday.The report does say that 20-year-old Jordan Griffith's blood alcohol level was .24 which is three times the legal limit.

23-year-old Brooks Rogers was killed in that crash Sunday morning after 2:30am. The crash report says Jordan Griffith crossed the center line on Tharpe Street and hit Rogers' car...

Authorities say two passengers were in the car with Rogers.

One was his friend Sterling Mixon. His family tells me that he is stable and in ICU and is expected to be moved to a regular room by the weekend.

While the crash report says Griffith's blood alcohol level was .24, police say charges are still pending. They say they are still investigating.

Family and friends will have one last time to see the 23-year-old FSU student who died Sunday from a car crash on Tharpe Street in Tallahassee.

The visitation for Samuel "Brooks" rogers will be on November 2nd from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Trinity United Methodist Church. The funeral services will be tomorrow at 11:00am, also at Trinity United Methodist Church. Contributions can be made to the best and brightest scholarship fund. These scholarships will benefit local high school students.


UPDATED 11.1.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Tallahassee Police have released the crash report in a deadly crash that claimed the life of an FSU student on Sunday.

It indicates that the driver of a silver Infiniti, Jordan Griffith, was headed eastbound on Tharpe Street when he crossed the center line and struck a gray Honda driven by Samuel Brooks Rogers.

The crash report indicates Griffith had a blood alcohol content of .240 and is still nearly two months shy of his 21st birthday.

The crash report says Rogers' car was westbound and did not contribute to the crash.

The crash report also indicates that both passengers in Rogers' car were taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman says Sterling Mixon is in fair condition and the hospital has no information on James Ervin.

The crash report also showed that Griffith was taken to Tallahassee Memorial but a spokeswoman says TMH has no information on him either.


Obituary for Brooks Rogers

Samuel Brooks Rogers, 23, passed away on Sunday, October 30, 2011. He was a senior at Florida State University, majoring in Political Science and planning to attend law school next fall. Brooks was a third generation graduate of Leon High School, graduating with distinction in 2006. He was a member of the swim team and worked for a number of years as a lifeguard for the City of Tallahassee.

He is survived by his parents, Sam and Laura Rogers, brothers Donnie and Andy, paternal grandparents Sam and Mary Margaret Rogers and maternal grandmother Margaret Kilby, aunts and uncles Mike and Karol Sweeterman, Elizabeth Hirst, Ann Rogers, Doug and Lee Ann Kilby, and Brian and Traci Kilby, Eric Lingswiler, and cousins Emily Hirst, Ara Hirst, Sarah Sweeterman, Garrett Sweeterman, Emily Kilby, Evan Kilby, and Josiah Kilby. Brooks was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Donald Kilby and his uncle Steve Hirst.

Brooks had an adventurous spirit and enjoyed spending time in the Bahamas with his family, boating off Alligator Point and watching international soccer with his friends. He loved traveling in Europe, in particular the trip he took with his Leon High School humanities class. He loved his dogs Buddy and Rufus. Brooks was a caring young man with a great sense of humor and was loved by his family and many friends.

A visitation for friends and family will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at Trinity United Methodist Church at 120 West Park Avenue in Tallahassee. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 3, 2011 at Trinity United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Best and Brightest Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1639, Tallahassee, FL 32302. These scholarships will benefit local high school seniors who have excelled both academically and in service to the community.


Updated by Lanetra Bennett - October 31, 2011 - 6pm

23-Year-Old Samuel "Brooks" Rogers was killed in a car crash early Sunday morning.

Brooks was a senior at FSU slated to graduate in May. His loved ones say his life was cut way too short.

"I'm going to miss him dearly." Says, Kevin Yon.

Yon can't believe he won't be able to see his childhood friend again.

He says, "Just a very lovable personality; makes you smile every chance he got. He was just one of those people you would always want around."

Rogers died around 3:00 Sunday morning.

Tallahassee Police say someone driving on Tharpe Street veered into the lane Rogers was driving in, killing Rogers on scene.

Authorities say there were two passengers in his car. Authorities have not confirmed their conditions.

Officers say the driver who hit Rogers was not injured.

FSU student Andrew Rockwood was shocked to hear about the death of a student.

He says, "It's crazy. It makes your heart get cold real fast. Like, whoa, what if I knew that person, what if that was me, and what should I do to not be that?"

Rogers was majoring in Political Science at FSU.

The Tallahassee native graduated from Leon High School in 2006, where he was on the swim team for two years, and became a city lifeguard for six years.

Yon says, "He was always there for me and any of his friends. He would give you the shirt off his back."

Rogers leaves behind two younger brothers. But, with friends like Yon, his true family was much larger.

"Brooks was like a brother to me. I'm going to miss, you, bud. I'll see you one day." Says, Yon.

Rogers' mother says he just took the LSAT exam and was excited about looking forward to continuing on to law school.

Police say they have not released the name of the driver that hit Rogers because charges are still pending.

A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 3rd, at Trinity United Methodist Church. Memorial contributions may be made to The Best and Brightest Scholarship Fund.


Tallahassee, FL - October 31, 2011 - Noon -

Police are investigating the death of a 23-year-old who died in a car crash over the weekend. The victim was a student at Florida State University.

Samuel Rogers was killed around 3:00am on Sunday. The FSU student was also known by his middle name, "Brooks."

Tallahassee Police say someone was driving on Tharpe Street and veered into the lane where 23 year-old Rogers was driving.

Rogers died on the scene.

Two passengers in Rogers' car had minor injuries.

The driver who hit Rogers wasn't injured.

The investigation is still active, so at this time we do not know if alcohol was a factor.

Police have not released the name of the driver that hit the car Rogers was in.


Tallahassee, FL - October 30, 2011
Updated 9:20 AM

The driver of the Honda in the traffic crash who succumbed to his injuries on scene has been identified as 23-year-old FSU student Samuel Rogers, also known by his middle name "Brooks" of Tallahassee, FL.

The crash occurred at approximately 2:53 AM this morning at the intersection of Tharpe Street and Devra Drive.

A close friend of the Rogers family, Gail Stansberry-Ziffer, shared with WCTV that Brooks was a senior, scheduled to graduate in May with a BS in Political Science.

His mother, Laura Rogers, said “Brooks had recently taken the LSAT exam and he was excited about making plans to continue on to law school. Everything looked so bright and promising for him. He was a smart, engaging, kind and funny young man who was truly coming into his own. And then, in an instant everything is gone and your world is irreparably changed.”

A native Tallahassean, Rogers was a member of the Leon High School swim team for two years prior to graduating in 2006. He is survived by his parents Laura and Sam Rogers, Jr., younger brothers Donnie and Andy and grandparents Mary Margaret and Sam Rogers, Sr. and Margaret Kilby. The family is in the process of making final arrangements with Bevis Funeral Services for services later this week at Trinity United Methodist located at 200 W. Park Avenue.


Tallahassee, FL - October 30, 2011
Updated 8:15 AM

Early this morning at approximately 2:53 AM, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to Tharpe Street and Devra Drive in reference to a traffic crash with injuries. Upon arrival officers discovered a silver Infiniti was traveling east on Tharpe Street passing Devra Drive and a gray Honda was traveling west on Tharpe Street approaching Devra Drive. The Infiniti traveling eastbound crossed into the path of the Honda traveling westbound, causing a collision.

The driver of the Infiniti was transported to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. The passenger of the Infiniti was treated for minor injuries on scene. The driver of the Honda succumbed to his injuries on scene and the two passengers were transported to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Details are limited at this time as investigation continues.


Tallahassee, FL - October 30, 2011

Early this morning around 3:30 AM, police responded to a vehicle accident at Devra Drive and West Tharpe Street. There is at least one confirmed fatality. WCTV is on the scene and will have more information as it is provided.


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