Rodriguez Rejects Plea Deal, Now Faces Death Penalty - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/18/06

Rodriguez Rejects Plea Deal, Now Faces Death Penalty

Attorneys thought they had a deal worked out with a confessed killer, but Wednesday morning, Rosendo Rodriguez changed his mind and turned down a plea agreement that would have given him life in prison.  Now, the Lubbock County District Attorney says his office is seeking the death penalty.

Even Rodriguez's attorney called the situation bizarre.  Attorney Jeff Blackburn told the court he took this case to save a man's life, but he called these most recent events a bizarre series, the likes of which he's never seen before.  As NewsChannel 11 first told you Tuesday, Rodriguez was expected to plead guilty to capital murder in the death of Summer Baldwin.  He also confessed to killing Joanna Rogers, but under the deal, he would not be prosecuted for her death and would instead get life in prison for the Baldwin murder.  District Attorney Matt Powell made this agreement with the intent that Rodriguez disclose all the information about the murders, but now that entire offer is off the table.  

That's because now, Rodriguez says he does not understand the situation and proceedings he entered into months ago.  Powell told the court if Rodriguez did not take the agreement, Wednesday, he would seek the death penalty.  The judge asked Rodriguez if he understood, and Rodriguez told the judge he did not.  Powell filed his notice to seek the death penalty, and asked the court for the quickest trial date possible.

"I think he's been clearly, clearly understands and knows exactly what has been going on," Powell said.  "We were all unified in what we were doing here today (Wednesday), and I think that's why it's so frustrating, because it took a lot of work and a lot of effort to get to this point today, and we thought we were going to be finished with him today," Powell added.

Powell say his office will do everything necessary to determine Rodriguez's competence.  In the mean time, he tells NewsChannel 11 the Baldwin and Rogers families still want to have the cases finished, and now they understand it will take some more time.

Investigators are still searching the landfill for Joanna Rogers, based on Rodriguez's confession, and Powell says Wednesday's proceedings will have no effect on that search.

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