Death penalty stands for Lubbock convict, appeals court says - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Death penalty stands for Lubbock convict, appeals court says

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has rejected the claims of Rosendo Rodriguez, now 31, in his Lubbock death penalty case.  Rodriguez was convicted in 2008 for the 2005 murder of Summer Baldwin, 29.  Her body was found in the Lubbock landfill; it had been stuffed in a suitcase and thrown into a dumpster.

Rodriguez claims 42 points of error at trial, all of which were rejected by the appeals court on March 16th.

Rodriguez claims that he had consensual relations with Baldwin in the early morning hours of September 12th, 2005.  He further claims that afterward she attacked him with a knife, and he choked her in self-defense.  The jury didn't buy it after there was evidence that she was attacked from behind.

It was actually a jury in Randall County that convicted Rodriguez because the trial was moved on a change of venue.

Court records say, "The evidence shows that Baldwin received approximately fifty blunt force wounds at or before the time of her death, that Rodriguez manually strangled her, and that these injuries were sufficient to cause her death."

The appellate court not only found that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to think her death was both intentional and murder, but the justices also believe there was enough evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that Baldwin had been raped.

In Texas, the commission of murder along with another felony such as Aggravated Sexual Assault is what qualifies a case as Capital Murder.

Attorneys for Rodriguez also attacked the punishment phase in which he was sentenced to death rather than life in prison.  But once again, justices were unsympathetic.

Court records say, "After this, he purchased a large meal, ate it, rented and watched a movie, and then slept before checking out of his hotel room. This evidence of such a callous crime could, on its own, support a finding of future dangerousness."

"We affirm the trial court's judgment and sentence of death."  The ruling is described as "the opinion for a unanimous Court."

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.

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