Parole Denied For Local Skateboarding Legend

Mark 'Gator' Rogowski Convicted In Death Of Jessica Bergsten

The state parole board on Monday denied release for a Carlsbad skateboarding legend convicted of rape and murder in 1991.

Mark Rogowski, known in the skateboarding world as "Gator," had his first parole hearing at the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo.

A jury found Rogowski guilty in 1991 of the rape and murder of Jessica Bergsten, a friend of his former girlfriend, Brandi McClain. Rogowski confessed to taking Bergsten to his apartment, where he hit her over the head, sexually assaulted her for three hours and then choked her to death. Rogowski told authorities he buried Bergsten in the desert.

He called Bergsten's death misplaced revenge against McClain. Rogowski said McClain broke his heart and that Bergsten was from the same mold.

While San Diego native and skateboarding icon Tony Hawk received much of the attention, "Gator" was considered one of the early trick artists of skateboarding, able to do gymnastics in mid-air on his board.

Coupled with a magnetic personality, Rogowski parlayed his fame into endorsements and promotional videos.

Pablo Smith, the owner of Soul Grind skateboarding shop in Mission Beach, told 10News, "How big was he? Gosh, huge, huge. These guys were the ones who pushed the envelope and brought skating to a level that had never even been dreamed of."

As for Rogowski's conviction, Smith said, "We were just shocked. You have someone with so much going for them and so much success and all of a sudden, 'Uh oh, whoa."

It will be another seven years before Rogowski will have another chance at parole.

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