Jerome Rogers, 55, of San Bernardino
Jerome Rogers, 55, of San Bernardino (Courtesy photo)

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Photo Gallery: Murder suspect arrested
SAN BERNARDINO -- The suspect in the killing of 76-year-old Mary Beth Blaskey pleaded not guilty to a murder charge Tuesday morning.

During the brief arraignment in San Bernardino Superior Court, a public defender entered the plea for Jerome Anthony Rogers, 57, of San Bernardino. Rogers said nothing during the hearing.

Shortly before the hearing, prosecutors charged Rogers in the killing of Blaskey, who was found dead in her Fremontia Drive home Nov. 14.

Rogers has been in custody since Friday, when police connected DNA found at the scene of the killing to him.

Blaskey, a retired clerk and secretary for San Bernardino City Unified School District, was found dead by her youngest son in her home.

The home was ransacked and Blaskey's 2001 Lexus was missing, police said. The car was found about two weeks later in the north end of San Bernardino.

Police said there was evidence of foul play and that there was trauma to the victim.

Gunner Blaskey was at the arraignment Tuesday morning. It was the first time he had seen in person the man suspected of murdering his mother.

"I'm sad, because I really miss my mom," Gunner Blaskey, 54, said after the hearing.

He said the family is struggling with the loss.

"She was my best friend. She was everybody's best friend," Gunner Blaskey said.

He said Mary Beth Blaskey always went out of her way to help other people, and he described her as bright, fun and funny.

"There's a lot of people who will miss her," he added.

Rogers, a registered sex offender, has a long history behind bars, dating back to 1979 when he was sentenced to three years in prison for rape, according to state Department of Corrections records.

Two years later, he was convicted of vehicle theft and robbery in Los Angeles County.

Records show he received a sentence of 31 years and four months in prison in July 1984 for burglary, kidnapping, sodomy, home-invasion robbery and grand theft auto. He was released from prison in June 2003.

Rogers is scheduled to be back in court Monday for a confirmation-of-counsel hearing.