LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Rosendo Rodriguez, III, sentenced to death for the murder of a pregnant woman and her unborn child, asked for a stay of execution on Tuesday, based on the actions of Lubbock County Chief Medical Examiner Sridhar Natarajan.
Natarajan said he performed the autopsies in the Rodriguez case and testified at his trial.
The motion cites a case filed by Dr. Luisa Florez under the Texas Whistleblower Act back in 2015, claiming that Natarajan delegated critical decisions to a senior forensic nurse, Honey Haney Smith.
The motion claims that Smith would frequently serve as Natarajan's proxy, "making decision that only a duly deputized medical examiner should be making."
The motion cites the claim that Natarajan was not performing his own autopsies, but was instead delegating the "cutting, removal of tissue and organs, and collection of forensic evidence to technicians who were not licensed or trained doctors or forensic pathologists."
The lawsuit also claimed that Dr. Natarajan conspired with Nurse Smith to backdate autopsy reports.
Dr. Natarajan and Lubbock County settled this lawsuit on Nov. 7, 2017, paying Dr. Florez the sum of $230,000.
The motion claims that Lubbock County District Attorney Matt Powell was aware of this lawsuit and failed to disclose it to Rodriguez, resulting in a violation of his due process rights.
The Rodriguez execution was scheduled for March 27, but his legal team is now asking for a stay so they can investigate how the autopsies were conducted in this case, and how that may have affected his conviction.
Rodriguez rejected a plea deal that would have given him life in prison back in October 2006.
RELATED STORY: Rosendo Rodriguez execution date set for March 27, 2018
RELATED LINK: Rodriguez Rejects Plea Deal, Now Faces Death Penalty (From Oct. 2006)