State District Judge denies motion for stay of execution for Rosendo Rodriguez, III
(KCBD) - State District Judge Jim Bob Darnell has denied a motion for a stay of execution for Rosendo Rodriguez, III, sentenced to death for the murder of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
Judge Darnell denied the motion on March 6 but did not explain the reason for the denial.
"To quote John Paul Jones 'we have only begun to fight,' said Rodriguez's attorney Seth Kretzer.
The Rodriguez defense team asked for the stay of execution on Tuesday, Feb. 20 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 decisions 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, violating the Brady Rule, resulting in a violation of his due process rights.
The prosecution has denied any wrongdoing.
Kretzer filed more documents in state court this week and says he plans on filing a new motion for a stay of execution in the court of criminal appeals tomorrow. The attorney is also taking this to the federal level.
The defense team filed another request on Wednesday, repeating their request as a writ and asking for more evidence to be released. The Rodriguez execution is still scheduled for March 27.
Rosendo Rodriguez was found guilty of capital murder in 2008 and the U.S. Supreme Court denied his appeal in 2011.
A Canyon jury sentenced him to death for the 2005 murders of Summer Baldwin and her unborn child. He also admitted to killing a Lubbock High School student, 16-year-old Joanna Rogers.
Rodriguez is currently represented by Houston attorney Seth Kretzer, with assistance from Tyler attorney Carlo D'Angelo. Rodriguez rejected a plea deal that would have given him life in prison back in October 2006.
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