Rodvold sentenced to 18 years to life for murdering father

It took the jury less than three hours to convict Steven Rodvold of murder in the shooting death of his father. It took a judge a day to determine Rodvold should be in prison for at least 18 years before he's eligible for parole. Rodvold closed his eyes as the jury walked in after reaching a verdict just before 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Melissa Topey
May 21, 2010

 

It took the jury less than three hours to convict Steven Rodvold of murder in the shooting death of his father. It took a judge a day to determine Rodvold should be in prison for at least 18 years before he's eligible for parole.

Rodvold closed his eyes as the jury walked in after reaching a verdict just before 4 p.m. Wednesday.

As Judge James Conway read the verdict, Rodvold stared down at the table where he sat fighting for his freedom for the past week.

After the jury left, he rested his head on his hands.

Rodvold spoke before his sentencing, saying that the judge should look at the whole picture - including his service in Iraq - before sentencing him. He also said that his defense attorney said the nicest things about him that anyone ever had. He also expressed his sorrow over his father's death.

Jury members were able to consider aggravated murder and murder, both of which require some thought or planning. They could also consider the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter, which does not require any planning.

Rodvold admitted to shooting his father at their rural New London home on the night of Sept. 17, 2009 but insisted he'd acted in self defense.

In closing arguments, Huron County prosecutor Russ Leffler called the death of Keith Rodvold an execution committed by his son, who stood over his father as he pumped two final bullets into his head to confirm the kill.

Countering the defense attorney's claims that Keith Rodvold was verbally abusive to his son, Leffler said no words, no matter how provocative, could justify Steven Rodvold's actions.

He attacked defense attorney William Mooney for arguing Keith Rodvold might have ignited his son's anger the night they reportedly fought.

"He shares the responsibility for clutter around the home, but he does not share the responsibility for his death," Leffler said. "Shame on them for making that argument."

Mooney argued Keith pushed his son's buttons, threatening to throw him out of their home and refusing to share food with him. He said if Keith had expressed concern over the deteriorating mental state of his son, he never sought help for him and never removed any of the guns from the home.

Leffler reiterated his argument that Rodvold killed his father and then made up the story that his father threatened to kill him, staging the scene to fit his testimony. Mooney countered if Rodvold planned to kill his father he could have waited until the two were shooting the dead pear tree in their back yard.

Rodvold grew up a loner, shifting between the homes of his mother and father.

Leffler said he developed a habit of constantly carrying a gun.

Rodvold and his father had a strained relationship and had stopped talking to one another, he testified as he took the stand Wednesday.

"It's a terrible tragedy, but it was a pretty obvious case, I thought," Leffler said.