Rosendo Rodriguez is guilty of two counts of capital murder. NewsChannel 11 was in the courtroom Friday when a jury of his peers said, yes, Rosendo Rodriguez did rape and murder Summer Baldwin and her unborn baby.
Since he's been found guilty, Rodriguez could face the death penalty. Rosendo Rodriguez was emotionless every day this week and even on Friday, when the verdict was read by the judge, Rodriguez remained stoic.
After the charge was read and the jury took a short recess, closing arguments began. In his argument, Assistant District Attorney Trey Payne repeated three times that Rodriguez had "complete and utter disregard for human life."
Payne then gave a timeline of events before and after Summer Baldwin's murder. He said Rodriguez threw out the trash, including Summer's body. You'll recall, Rodriguez's attorney said Rodriguez killed Baldwin out of self defense to save his own life. The prosecution said that defense was quote, "nonsense."
When defense attorney Rick Waldroup started his argument he tried to appeal to the jury's intellect, not their emotions. Waldroup, like in his opening statement, said this trial was not about who did it but rather how it was done. He urged the jury to rely on facts and the law, and said if they did they would have to acquit.
Then during the final arguments for the prosecution, Lubbock District Attorney Matt Powell said, while pointing at Rodriguez, "if found not guilty he'll walk out that door and go to lunch with you." He then said Rodriguez is the worst kind of evil. And to appeal to the jury's emotion even more, he pulled out the suitcase Baldwin was found in, threw it on the ground and placed three roses in it and said, "thank God this wasn't Summer Baldwin's final resting place."
Then two and half hours later when the jury returned with the guilty verdict, Summer Baldwin's mother said she was pleased.
"Long time we've been waiting for this. Oh I am ecstatic (about the verdict). It's been a long time coming," said Uvah Robak, Summer's mother.
The punishment phase began this afternoon with the prosecution calling four witnesses to the stand. All women and all with graphic accounts claiming Rodriguez raped them multiple times. Rodriguez met three of the girls in a Catholic fraternity at Texas Tech. One girl testified Rodriguez gave her a sexually transmitted disease.
Proceedings will resume Monday morning in Canyon with a hearing involving Joanna Rogers' family. You'll recall Rogers is another girl Rodriguez allegedly killed, stuffed into suitcase and threw away. The hearing is to determine if her family can take the stand for the prosecution. The trial will resume after that hearing.