Who Killed Michael Peacock?
by Tim Stelloh, November 4, 2009
The Placer County Sheriff's department has been tight-lipped about the death of Michael Glen Peacock — the man who testified against the former chairman of the Mendocino County Republican Party, Kenny Rogers in Rogers’ recent murder-for-hire trial. Peacock was a critical — if unpredictable — witness for the District Attorney's office, and was subsequently found dead in his trailer in Placer County shortly after Rogers was delivered a guilty verdict in July.
The Internet rumor mill has since suggested that Rogers was connected to Peacock's death, which was classified as a homicide. While the Placer County Sheriff's Department hasn't said much, here's what Sgt. Dennis Walsh is willing to say: Peacock's death has no connection to Mendocino County.
The investigation is ongoing, and Walsh declined to elaborate.
So, via Peacock's sister, Carol Harke, a few details on her brother's death: After not seeing Peacock for an extended period of time, neighbors got worried, pried open the door of his trailer — which is in rural Placer County — and found the 48-year-old man's body. He'd suffered gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma to the head.
Peacock, who was a long-time drug user, was off the hard stuff at the time he was killed, Harke said. He still enjoyed his weed, however, and was maintaining a pot garden with a few dozen licensed plants, she said — but her brother's killer(s) didn't abscond with them. Walsh said that while drugs may have played some role in the homicide, they had nothing to do with motive.
During the Rogers trial, Peacock was a wild card. He was nowhere to be seen the day he was scheduled to testify — and it seemed as if there might be a repeat of a previous incarnation of the Rogers trial, when Peacock skipped out entirely on a subpoena. Peacock eventually did show up this time, however — and his reason for being there was simple: His older brother is Richard Dean Peacock, the man now serving a 71-year sentence for nearly ending the life of Alan Simon, Rogers' one-time political adversary in Westport. Richard Peacock was convicted in 2006 of firing nine bullets at Simon while the former Westport water chief stood outside the front door of his home; Kenny Rogers was found guilty in July of hiring Richard Peacock to do the shooting.
In the days after the would-be hit man's arrest, Michael Peacock told Mendocino County sheriff's detectives that, shortly before the night of the shooting, his brother Richard told him he was on his way to Westport because Rogers had asked him to rough someone up. The younger brother told police that he used to work for Rogers on his Jack of Hearts property near Westport, and that Rogers had once tried to hire him to beat up a different political enemy. In the case of his older brother, Michael Peacock told police, Rogers had offered a few pounds of pot in exchange for his services.
During the trial, prosecutor Tim Stoen played a recording of a phone call between Rogers and his wife, Christine, after Rogers had been arrested in June 2005. She'd heard about Michael Peacock's interview with police and, predictably, was anything but pleased. Referring to Michael Peacock's long, felonious history, she called his interview the “hearsay of a convict.” She told her husband that his former employee had “sat down and told the DA a story that was fabricated.” That fabrication, she said, was the entirety of the prosecution's case.
It wasn't, of course, but that seemed to please Rogers, who, up until the final moments of his trial, seemed thoroughly relaxed: He made small talk with the court reporter. He smiled at journalists. When the verdict was announced, Rogers sunk in his chair.
“I didn't do it,” he whispered to the jury before being escorted out of the courtroom.
Rogers’ Sacramento attorney is reportedly working on a mistrial motion and/or an appeal but those filings probably won’t be made until next year.