Wisconsin News

Murder victim's mother speaks out

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Imagine sitting just a few feet away from the man who killed your daughter.

That's the nightmare the mother of Kristen Rodgers had to live during this week's trial.

It's hard enough to lose a daughter, but it becomes even more heartbreaking to find out she met a violent end.

Rodgers' body was found face-down in a north side parking lot back in March.

More than six months later, this week's trial was painful for Kathy Tabbert to sit through.

"I keep thinking about what he did. Took her away from me," said Tabbert.

She couldn't bring herself to look at the photos of her daughter's body shown in court.

"It was just too painful to see how somebody could do something like that to anybody," said Tabbert. "She was struggling for her life. That's the hurtful part."


The jurors in the trial of Izelia Golatt saw just one side of Rodgers: someone struggling with a serious cocaine addiction.

But Tabbert said there was so much more to her daughter's life than that.

"I'm going to miss her. Her kids are going to miss her. She was so much more than her drug problem," she said.

Rodgers loved to shop, she loved anything that glittered, she loved the Brewers and the Packers, and she had a smile that could light up a room.

"I miss her beautiful smile. And that smile doesn't even portray what she was going through, I assume," said Tabbert.

Rodgers' final years were spent in a vicious cycle of rehab and relapses.

La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke said he was concerned it would affect the jury's verdict.

"We thought maybe people might think that people that are addicted to drugs might not deserve as much justice. But, obviously, the jury didn't see it that way and I'm thankful for that," said Gruenke.

Tabbert is thankful too -- thankful the killer is behind bars, even if it won't bring her daughter back.

"She has justice. That's the only thing that makes me feel better," said Tabbert.

To commemorate her daughter, friends and family are holding a benefit in her name. It's going to be on November 17 at 1:00 p.m. at Robins Nest in La Crosse. There will be raffles, games, food and live music. All proceeds will go toward helping others win their fight against addiction.

Golatt's sentencing is set for the day before that benefit. He faces life in prison.

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