The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 23, 2013

Murder retrial of local man begins

By MARY RAINWATER
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — A jury selected Tuesday for the retrial of a 58-year-old Palestine man accused of murdering another Anderson County man almost four years ago was seated this morning to hear opening remarks at the Anderson County Courthouse.

Robert Lynn Pridgen of Palestine was tried for the January 2009 shooting death of 40-year-old Paul Rohne in March 2011.

Following approximately 10 hours of deliberations, however, Pridgen’s trial was declared a mistrial by 369th State District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III after the jury indicated it was hopelessly deadlocked at 8-4.

Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe told the Herald-Press Tuesday that a jury of seven women and five men (and one female alternate) were selected for the trial, which he expects to continue through “at least” Friday.

Pridgen was tried in March 2011 for Rohne’s shooting death at the latter’s residence north of Montalba.

Rohne was fatally shot in the upper left chest during the early morning hours of Jan. 27, 2009 following a night of heavy drinking by both men, authorities have said.

Pridgen admitted shooting Rohne, but claimed self-defense, telling authorities he did so after the man had first touched his crotch while he was sleeping and then produced a knife.

Pridgen, who was represented by Tyler attorney Jeff Haas, did not testify during last year’s trial.

Pridgen is a former Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee who also previously worked at Alcoa.

Rohne was the son of local businessman and community leader Tony Rohne.

According to the district attorney’s office, 87th State District Judge Debra Oakes Evans will preside over the trial. Pridgen will continue to be represented by Haas, with Anderson County First Assistant District Attorney Stanley Sokolowski taking the lead for the state.



Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at mrainwater@palestineherald.com.