Judge questions whether Steve Lawson was truthful with investigators in Crystal Rogers case (2024)

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – A judge in the Crystal Rogers murder case seemed disinclined to provide immunity to one of the men charged in her 2015 disappearance, although he did not issue an order Thursday.

Attorney Ted Lavit has asked that the charges against Steve Lawson in the Rogers murder case be dismissed — or at least that his statements be thrown out — because he was promised immunity for talking with investigators.

But Nelson County Judge Charles Simms noted that in all the records he has seen, the agreement between prosecutors and Lawson stipulated he had to be 100 percent honest with investigators. And prosecutors have argued Lawson lied repeatedly to minimize his own part in the Rogers case.

Prosecutor Shane Young said that stipulation was mentioned two dozen times during the multiple interviews prosecutors and investigators had with Lawson.

Young said Lawson admitted lying to investigators in a jail phone call and to a detective, acknowledging he had messed up his immunity deal.

"We believe there are numerous examples" of Lawson lying to investigators, including about phone calls to Houck and his role in what happened to Rogers’ vehicle.

When asked by Simms if Lawson told the truth 100 percent of the time, Lavit said he “did not lie purposely” and that investigators pushed Lawson to tell them what they wanted to hear.

Regardless, Lavit said Lawson’s statements led to the indictment of his son, Joseph Lawson, and Rogers’ former boyfriend, Brooks Houck.

“When they say he lied and therefore he broke the agreement, that’s not how the courts have looked at it,” Lavit said. “He provided info that led to the arrests.”

The judge said he would take the matter under submission and issue a ruling later.

Also yesterday, prosecutors introduced evidence that Steve Lawson's wife, Tammy, was on the Bluegrass Parkway at the same time as Joseph Lawson was picking Rogers' vehicle, based on cell phone coverage.

Tammy Lawson died a few years after Rogers disappeared. Prosecutors said Steve Lawson lied about his wife being on the Bluegrass Parkway.

In recorded interviews with police, Steve Lawson said he didn't know why his wife was following them in a car.

"She was just crazy. She got f****** mad. She didn't give a f***. She would hunt me down 'til the end of time."

Rogers was last seen with her boyfriend, Brooks Houck, during the Fourth of July weekend in 2015.

Her car was left running on the side of Bluegrass Parkway with her purse still inside.

She's presumed dead, but her body was never found.

But Young says Lawson has changed his story about Tammy's alleged involvement and other facts in the case too.

Young said, "Telling us Tammy wasn't on the Bluegrass, telling us Tammy was on the Bluegrass, that he knew the car was going to the Bluegrass, then that he didn't know the car was going to the Bluegrass. Judge, there are numerous examples."

It's those inconsistencies that Young says led to the immunity deal not happening for Lawson.

In another example showing that Lawson lied, Young also discussed construction equipment that Steve Lawson was using at the time.

Young said, "The Bobcat which is also referred as a Skidsteer we believe to be used or was to be used in the crime, and so we were asking him about the Bobcat. He advised us that the last time he saw the Bobcat was on July 3rd when he parked it down by a tree and he hasn't seen it since then. He believed his son stole the Bobcat. For the next 5 years, he blamed his son for stealing the Bobcat."

After the hearing, Lawson's attorney, Ted Lavit said, "They didn't put this in writing, so they're controlling the agreement. They're telling the court you heard them say that that they reached this agreement because you had to tell us the 100 percent truth and they didn't do that and on the other hand, they controlled what was said and what wasn't said."

Steve Lawson along with his son and Brooks Houck are all expected in court next month to discuss whether the cases should be tried together or not.

After eight years of investigation, Lawson was the third man charged in Rogers' disappearance in recent months. His son, Joseph Lawson, and Brooks Houck have also been indicted.

Rogers was last seen with her boyfriend, Houck, during the Fourth of July weekend in 2015. Her car was left running on the side of Bluegrass Parkway with her purse still inside. She's presumed dead, but her body was never found.

For the most part, jurors will only hear Lawson’s statement to grand jurors, though prosecutors will ask for some statements made to investigators to be included at the 2025 trial.

Steve Lawson has been indicted on charges of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence. He has pleaded not guilty.

Lawson, who did part-time construction work with Houck, talked with him by phone shortly after Rogers' disappearance.

During a police interrogation after Rogers disappeared, Houck was asked about Steve Lawson and said Lawson was "somebody that works for me."

Lavit has told WDRB that Steve Lawson's son, Joseph, "drove Crystal's vehicle west on the Bluegrass (Parkway) to, I believe it was Mile Marker 14 or 16, where he had a flat tire."

And Lavit said in an interview that Steve Lawson picked his son up and also removed a miniature Louisville slugger bat from the vehicle.

Lavit argued Thursday that at the very least, the comments made by his client should not be used against him as he was promised immunity and fully cooperated. The two sides did not present arguments on that issue.

In September, Joseph Lawson was charged with criminal conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the death of Rogers.

Houck, the primary suspect in the disappearance of Rogers, was arrested Sept. 27, after being charged with complicity to murder and tampering with physical evidence.

Houck was the last person seen with Rogers, his former girlfriend and the mother of his 10-year-old son.

He has pleaded not guilty and is in jail on a $10 million bond.

This story may be updated.

Previous Coverage:

  • 1 of 3 men charged in Crystal Rogers' murder scheduled to appear in court today
  • Steve Lawson said in jail phone call that he and son moved Crystal Rogers' vehicle
  • Prosecution: Steve Lawson was recruited by Brooks Houck 'to get rid' of Crystal Rogers
  • Brooks Houck's 2015 interview with Nancy Grace added to evidence in Crystal Rogers murder case
  • Prosecutor, attorneys for 3 men charged in Crystal Rogers' murder choose Christian County for 2025 trial
  • The 3 men charged in the Crystal Rogers murder should stand trial together, prosecutor argues

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Judge questions whether Steve Lawson was truthful with investigators in Crystal Rogers case (2024)
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