A Seaside man who was found guilty of killing his girlfriend’s 2 year-old daughter received a new sentence Friday after his murder convictions were overturned by the Oregon Court of Appeals last year.
To avoid a retrial, Randy Roden’s counsel and prosecutors settled on a guilty plea to manslaughter in the first degree.
Roden, 32, was sentenced to 20 years in prison from when he was arrested in December 2014. The murder charges he was convicted of in 2016 were dismissed.
Roden was sentenced to nearly 40 years in prison in 2016 after a jury found him guilty of murder by abuse, felony murder, manslaughter, assault and criminal mistreatment in the death of Evangelina Wing and the abuse of her two brothers.
The Court of Appeals, however, ruled that during the trial the prosecution failed to present an adequate scientific foundation for expert testimony on bite marks found on the children.
District Attorney Ron Brown, who prosecuted the case, said the state agreed to make the deal based on many different factors, including a lapse in time since the crime, holes in the investigation — particularly with the autopsy of Wing — and the uncertainty of another trial.
Brown said he also did not want to further traumatize the children and other witnesses with another trial. Another reason, he said, is no one could duplicate the work of the lead detective on the case, Seaside Sgt. Jason Goodding, who was killed on duty in 2015.
“There’s really no amount of time or money or anything else that can ever give back the innocence of a child’s life or a victim of sexual abuse,” Brown said. “And it’s frustrating that the best we can do is just put somebody in prison, but at least he won’t be hurting anybody for the better part of the next 20 years.
“He’s a total bully, and he picks on women and children. That’s his track record.”
Prosecutors and law enforcement have described the death of Wing and the abuse of her brothers as one of the worst child abuse cases in the county’s history.
Prosecutors alleged the children were tortured, sexually abused, burned, bitten and caged in the Seaside apartment their mother, Dorothy Wing, shared with Roden.
Dorothy Wing pleaded guilty to manslaughter and criminal mistreatment and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, a reduced sentence agreed upon in return for her testimony against Roden.
During Roden’s sentencing on Friday, the family of the children struggled to come to terms with a new sentence they view as unjust.
Melissa Smith, the children’s aunt and adoptive parent of the two boys, said her family is offended by how the matters have been handled.
“It sends a message to the community in which this child died that her life does not matter,” Smith said. “The effects of this crime, and his actions on every member of my family is a life sentence of dealing with profound trauma and grief and loss.
“When I think of everything my nieces and nephews have gone through, I become sick to my stomach that someone could hurt children in this way or that a mother could look the other way shocks me to my core. No one will ever know the extent of their torture, sexual abuse, mental and emotional abuse that they suffered at this man’s hand. Man is too kind of a word, he is a monster.
“I’m still learning new things that were done to my boys and their sister every day and it takes a part of my heart. There’s a raw and empty space in all of this now that will never be healed because of this horrible man.”
Judge Henry Kantor, who presided over the sentencing, said the new sentence may not satisfy anyone, “but it is what the community can produce in light of all of the circumstances.”