'She deserved to live' - Remembering Summer Baldwin, 13 years after her murder
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - In September 2005, a City of Lubbock landfill worker made a gruesome discovery.
"We've locked the landfill down. It's restricted and will be until we are done processing the crime scene," said Thomas Esparza with the Lubbock Police Department in a 2005 interview.
Stuffed inside a suitcase, buried amongst the garbage, they found the body of 29-year-old Summer Baldwin; Uvah Robak's only child.
"She was just a really happy person and she deserved to live. She shouldn't have had her life cut short," Robak said.
A universal product code (UPC) led detectives to Walmart where surveillance video showed Rosendo Rodriguez III buying a suitcase and latex gloves at 3:30 a.m.
"I would imagine most people thought when a young lady is found at a landfill, that the chances of getting that case solved are fairly slim. Here we are less than 48 hours later, and we have a suspect in custody," Lubbock County District Attorney Matt Powell told KCBD.
Rodriguez was a Texas Tech graduate living in San Antonio.
He was in the Marine Corps Reserves and visiting Lubbock for his monthly training.
As investigators began to question him, he confessed.
KCBD received a copy of the recorded confession where he acted out what happened the night he killed Baldwin.
He told police they had sex and then began to argue.
Rodriguez said Baldwin pulled out a pocketknife, so in self-defense, he strangled her.
He told investigators he put her body in a suitcase and then threw it in a dumpster.
In the video, an investigator with the Lubbock Police Department asked Rodriguez why he didn't try to resuscitate Baldwin.
"You say you are in control enough to control your own temper and your own actions, yet you say are so out of control that you don't know what to do, you don't know how to give CPR even though you've been trained to do that?" he asked.
"When I looked down at her, her face was covered in blood. I didn't want to put my mouth over her mouth. I just didn't think to do it; I was panicking at that point," Rodriguez said.
"But you had had sex with her just minutes before, correct?"
"Yes sir," Rodriguez said.
An autopsy report revealed Baldwin was severely beaten and died from blunt force trauma and asphyxiation.
"He put Summer in that suitcase while she was still alive, so she suffocated. How horrible that must have been. He is just a horrible, horrible person," Robak said.
Robak not only lost her daughter that night but her grandchild as well.
Baldwin was pregnant.
"She came over here right before her death and she was already showing and we went around was kind of looking at baby clothes and stuff," Robak said.
In the video recording, an investigator asked Rodriguez why he never called 911.
"I panicked. I thought about my career in the military. I just panicked. I don't know how else to explain it," Rodriguez said.
"Would it be fair to say that you had stopped panicking when you were watching Star Wars on that evening?" the investigator asked.
"I had bought the movie just to watch, but I really wasn't paying attention," Rodriguez said.
"Would it be fair to say you stopped panicking when you went down to the ATM and got money and went and bought lunch that Monday?" the investigator asked.
"Oh yes, sir," Rodriguez said.
In 2008, a jury found Rodriguez guilty of capital murder.
He is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, March 27th, 2018, the day after his 38th birthday.
While Robak has her daughter's ashes, she said she will never have closure.
"There will never be closure because you know, she is gone and we miss her every day," Robak said.
RELATED STORY: Rosendo Rodriguez execution date set for March 27, 2018
RELATED LINK: Rodriguez Rejects Plea Deal, Now Faces Death Penalty (From Oct. 2006)
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