A jury in Davenport today (Tuesday) found Roger Bentley guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the death of 10-year-old Jetseta Gage of Cedar Rapids.
Gage vanished from her mother’s home in Cedar Rapids last March and was later found dead in an abandoned mobile home in Johnson County. Gage’s death created outrage and renewed calls for the death penalty in the Legislature after it was learned that Bentley was a convicted sex offender.
Jurors began deliberating before noon and returned the guilty verdict on both counts after about two hours. During closing arguments today defense attorney Peter Persaud asked the jury to consider that Bentley only sexually abused Jetseta Gage after she died, and had nothing to do with her murder. The prosecutor said there was enough evidence to prove that Bentley killed the girl, and the jury agreed. Gage’s death created outrage and renewed calls for the death penalty in the Legislature after it was learned that Bentley was a convicted sex offender.
Judge Patrick Grady read the verdict and said, “The jury has returned form of verdict number one, verdict number one, we the jury find the defendant guilty of kidnapping in the first degree. Form of verdict number two, verdict number one, we the jury find the dependent guilty of murder in the first degree.” Grady then asked the jury if those were their verdicts and they replied “yes.” Grady then polled the individual jurors and each said they agreed with the verdicts.
Grady then dismissed the jurors. Grady said, “I want to thank you very, very, much for your service over this last week and a half. I know this was a difficult task and you were very attentive and undertook this, and I cannot put in words my uh, the gratitude and pride I feel when we have citizens undertake this responsibility.”
Bentley will be sentenced on February 17th in Johnson County.