Robert Hodges was, by all accounts, a loving family man who suddenly last September killed his three young children and attempted to kill his wife. He plead to first degree murder, accepting life without parole in order to avoid the death penalty.
On Friday, he faced his sentencing. It was an emotional scene, and he broke down in his brief statement, apologizing to his wife and family for “destroying the life we built together and taking the lives of our children.
“I apologize to everyone I hurt with my crimes,” he said. “I apologize (to my wife) for taking away our lives together. My crimes are unforgivable.”
His confession and apology did not prevent Judge David Rosenberg from issuing a strong statement rebuking Mr. Hodges. The judge said plainly, “God may forgive you, but this court does not.”
He referred to him as Jekyll and Hyde, stating that he was a “serial killer of his own children,” calling this the “darkest, most depraved case I’ve ever handled.”
He said that “you have forfeited for the rest of your life the right to live in society and you will live in prison for the rest of your life.”
His wife and sister wrote a statement that was read by the victim’s advocate. She expressed surprised that he has confessed he had planned the act for a year. She noted he seemed to joyfully raise
their youngest baby, and that “you knew you were already planning to take the lives of the children.”
She said he seemed a happy man, and “we would never guess what you were going through.”
Another person spoke and said, “You’re still a good person inside, I’m only angry at the demon that got inside you and made you do those horrible things.”
Robert Hodges, Sr., wrote a statement calling his son an “upstanding guy before everything went to hell.”
A family friend, whose kids were close friends with the children, read a tear-filled statement. She said, “There is an intense unmentionable pain in our hearts that won’t subside.” She said that “we are broken to the core.”
She noted about his wife, “He left her in deep despair. She’s not the same as before this horrific day.
“There is no winning side to all of this,” she said. “You tainted what trust feels and looks like” to her children.
“Time will never heal when you lose someone you love,” she continued.
Finally, she said, “We all know Rob to be a good man before this event… We not only lost three, but we lost four.”
“He’ll die in prison. That’s where he should die. He’ll never get out. It’s done today,” said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.
Mr. Hodges plead last month to the life without parole sentence. The DA, in a statement at that time, said that he had “carefully considered all of the factors in aggravation and mitigation under California law related to the punishment. Ultimately, the surviving family’s desire for a swift and certain conclusion to this heartbreaking case led us to the conclusion that this resolution was most appropriate. The defendant will die in prison.”
However, on Friday, he added that, while it was the family’s “desire for a swift and certain conclusion to this heartbreaking case” which led to the agreement, “There’s never going to be solace for the family in this case. Three children are gone and there’s simply nothing that will ever heal the wounds.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting