EVERETT — For the first time, Richard Rotter on Monday addressed publicly what he did March 25, 2022.
Reading from prewritten remarks, Rotter apologized for killing Everett police officer Dan Rocha that day.
“I will continue to pray for everyone’s continued healing,” Rotter said. “I ask that you and everybody please forgive me. I am a Christian and I have fallen.”
At trial, Rotter had appeared in dress shirts and slacks. On Monday, he was in an orange jail uniform.
On April 3, a jury found Rotter guilty of aggravated first-degree murder. With that conviction in Snohomish County Superior Court, the Kennewick man, 51, faced only one possible sentence from Judge Bruce Weiss: Life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The jury also found Rotter, a convicted felon, guilty of unlawful firearm possession, possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin, and attempting to elude police. The decisions came after about four hours of deliberations following two weeks of testimony at trial last month.
The courtroom Monday was packed with Everett police and local leaders, like police Chief Dan Templeman, Mayor Cassie Franklin and Snohomish County Prosecutor Jason Cummings.
On March 25, 2022, Rocha, 41, was on patrol in north Everett, when he stopped for coffee at the Starbucks at 1010 N. Broadway, as he often did. After ordering, he saw Rotter moving guns between two cars in the parking lot, the officer’s body camera footage showed. He went outside to talk to Rotter.
The two talked calmly for about eight minutes before Rocha, who joined the police department in 2017, tried to arrest Rotter for investigation of unlawful firearm possession. As Rocha struggled with the suspect, Rotter pulled a Glock out of a shoulder holster, prosecutors alleged.
“There’s really just not a whole lot to say, other than that the defendant executed a fine man in a public parking lot,” deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson said in court Monday. “It is hard to imagine somebody that deserves the life without sentence more than the defendant.”
Rotter fled in a blue Mini Cooper, running over the officer’s dead body as he sped away from the parking lot. Police arrested him after he caused a three-car crash at the intersection of 35th Street and Rucker Avenue.
The officer had missed the gun Rotter concealed while patting him down minutes before the defendant shot and killed him. At sentencing, Judge Weiss said he hopes this pushes local police to review their pat down procedures to catch shoulder holsters.
Rotter had an extensive criminal history before killing Rocha. He had several previous convictions for attempting to elude police.
After a half-hour hearing, Weiss sentenced Rotter to spend the rest of his life in prison without a chance of release, the mandatory prison term. He called the slaying a “brutal execution of an excellent police officer.” He blamed people not wanting to become police officers on actions like Rotter’s.
Morgen Henry remembered her brother as more than just a police officer. He played competitive air hockey and lovingly teased others’ movie taste. She called him dedicated, supportive and a natural protector.
Henry said in court: “Officer Dan Rocha’s name will live on through legacies.”