Killer skips chance for parole in '86 Plymouth murder
Jim Rober said he wanted to look his brother’s killer in the eye. He said he wanted tell Kurt Kegler how his brutal actions on Dec. 11, 1986, had not only taken a vulnerable man’s life but also devastated a family.
He was robbed of that opportunity Tuesday afternoon.
Kegler, who has served 19 years in prison for beating and strangling a handicapped Paul Rober at an abandoned dog kennel off Route 44 in Plymouth, waived his right to a parole hearing just seconds before coming face to face with his victim’s family and the state parole board.
Kegler asked the guards who were escorting him to turn around when he was only a few feet from entering the hearing room where Jim Rober, his brother Brian Rober and their 66-year-old mother, Sandra Rober, sat waiting solemnly.
Parole board chairman Mark Conrad said Kegler’s unexpected decision meant an automatic denial of parole and would push back his eligibility for release by another five years.
“I do feel cheated, and my family feels cheated,” Jim Rober said, speaking after the canceled hearing. “I think he should have taken the responsibility of walking into that room and understanding his actions.”
Paul Rober was a 23-year-old from Plymouth who weighed only 115 pounds and walked with braces on his legs. He was beaten with birch logs, dragged through the dirt, then strangled until his neck snapped, police reports and court testimony showed.
Police arrested three people for the murder, but only Kegler has served significant time for the crime.
Judy Amendola, who confessed to fetching the rope that was used to strangle Rober, became the prosecution’s star witness, and in exchange, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of accessory after the fact of murder. She served six months in jail and later gave birth to Kegler’s child.
Murder charges against Robert Wade, who sat on Paul Rober’s legs as he was choked, were also dismissed when the judge ruled his confession was inadmissible because he was drunk when Plymouth police read him his rights. There were also questions of his mental capacity to understand the charges.
Wade is now serving a life sentence after a 1997 conviction for raping and murdering an 84-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease who lived on a Lakeville farm where he worked.
Kegler was up for parole once before, in 2004. He waived his right to a hearing then as well, although before appearing before the parole board.
No explanation was given of his decision on Tuesday, although Jim Rober surmised it was because Kegler saw the throngs of newspaper and television reporters who had shown for the hearing.
“He was a coward; he turned away, and we’ll see him in five years,” said Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz.
Cruz worked on the Rober murder as an assistant district attorney and recalled being at the courthouse the day Kegler was convicted of second-degree murder.
Despite the turn of events, the parole board allowed both Cruz and Jim Rober to read statements they had prepared for the hearing. Conrad, afterward, offered solace to the family.
“I hope that justice was served in some small measure today,” he said. “Unfortunately, Mr. Kegler didn’t hear you ... but the Commonwealth of Massachusetts heard you very clearly.”
Jennifer Mann may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.