Parole was recommended Tuesday for a one-time champion skateboarder who has spent nearly three decades in prison for raping and killing a woman at his Carlsbad home.
A parole board made the recommendation for Mark “Gator” Rogowski, 53, during a hearing at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, KGTV-TV reported.
Rogowski confessed to killing 22-year-old Jessica Bergsten in 1991. He beat her with a car lock, chained her to a bed, raped her, then placed her in a surfboard bag and strangled her before burying her in the desert, authorities said.
EXCLUSIVE: Former celebrity skateboarder convicted of rape and murder granted parole despite objections from victim's family and DA's Office. "We think he still poses a threat." @10News #10Newshttps://t.co/h7HvszLeqQ
— Derek Staahl (@10NewsDerek) December 11, 2019
Bergsten was a friend of Rogowski’s former girlfriend and he said he attacked her out of “misplaced revenge”after he was dumped.
Rogowski pleaded guilty to rape and murder and was sentenced to 31 years in prison. He lost bids for parole in 2011 and 2016.
“I’m disgusted with what I did. I think about it every day,” the 1980s skateboarding champion told the parole panel Tuesday. “I took everything from that poor family. They have every right to be angry with me. I want to make it go away but I can’t.”
The panel noted Rogowski’s remorse and his clean disciplinary record during 27 years behind bars in concluding he wasn’t an unreasonable risk to the community, despite objections from Bergsten’s father and the San Diego County district attorney’s office, KGTV-TV said.
“The pain never goes away,” Stephen Bergsten told the panel. “This inmate received a life sentence, but he imposed a death sentence upon Jessica and our family.”
“We think he still poses a threat, especially to women,” Supervising Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs said. “When someone does something as horrible as this, it shocks the conscience that they would be granted parole.”
The state Board of Parole Hearings has 120 days to finalize the panel’s recommendation. The case would then go before Gov. Gavin Newsom for review.