Rodriguez Trial Moved To Randall County - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/25/08

Rodriguez Trial Moved To Randall County

Source: Lubbock Co. Sheriff Source: Lubbock Co. Sheriff

The fate of accused killer Rosendo Rodriguez will be decided outside of Lubbock. 

Friday afternoon, Judge Jim Bob Darnell granted a change of venue, moving the capital murder trial to Randall County court in Canyon.

Jury selection started in Lubbock on Wednesday.  Attorneys narrowed down the potential pool to 160 jurors, but now Judge Darnell says there is too much prejudice against Rodriguez that they cannot pick a fair and impartial jury in Lubbock County.

Rodriguez is charged with capital murder in the death of Summer Baldwin and her unborn child. Her body was found inside a suitcase at the Lubbock landfill in 2005.

Defense attorneys actually asked for a change of venue back in April, arguing Rodriguez could not receive a fair trial in Lubbock due to extensive media coverage.

A month later, in May, Judge Darnell ruled media coverage alone was not enough to move the trial. He told attorneys it may be hard to find a jury pool that hadn't already formed an opinion, but they had to try. He followed that up by saying he would reverse his decision if they could not find a suitable jury.

Friday afternoon, around 1:30 p.m., Darnell granted the change of venue to Canyon, but he will still preside over this case.

NewsChannel 11 asked Lubbock County Court Coordinator David Slayton about the costs associated with a change of venue. He couldn't talk specifically about this case, but says there are significant costs, including the cost of keeping the judge, court reporter, and prosecutors in Canyon during the trail.

Slayton also told NewsChannel 11 that a change of venue is very rare in Lubbock County.  He didn't know exactly when the last time was, but he says it's been more than 10 years.

Judge Darnell ordered the Lubbock County Sheriff to transfer custody of Rodriguez to the Randall County Sheriff by February 14th. A new trial date has not been set, yet.

Rodriguez has also reportedly confessed to killing Joanna Rogers. She went missing in May of 2004, and searchers found her body in the landfill in October of 2006.

Just days before that, Rodriguez rejected a plea deal that would have given him life for Baldwin's death, and he would not have been tried for Rogers' death.

After that rejection, District Attorney Matt Powell told NewsChannel 11 his office is seeking the death penalty in the Baldwin case.

Rodriguez is not charged in Rogers' death.

6/7/06
How Rodriguez is Linked to Suitcase Murder and Missing Teen
The Rogers family says if it wasn't for someone finding Summer Baldwin's body, investigators may have never found Rosendo Rodriguez, the man charged with her death.  And without Rodriguez,  the hope of finding missing teen Joanna Rogers could have remained a mystery. 

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