LUBBOCK, TX - Court documents filed Monday in both New Orleans and in Lubbock indicated that the United States Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of a death row inmate.
It would appear to clear the way for the execution of Rosendo Rodriguez III, but his defense team could file further requests for court review.
Rodriguez was convicted of killing Summer Baldwin. Her body was found in a suitcase by landfill workers.
“He picked up Baldwin in the early morning hours of September 12, 2005, and took her to his hotel room where he beat, strangled, and sexually assaulted her,” the appeals court record said. “He then purchased the suitcase, placed her body in it, and threw it in a dumpster.”
“The ongoing police investigation also linked Rodriguez to the disappearance of 16-year-old Joanna Rogers, who had been missing for more than a year,” the appeals records said. “Rodriguez confessed to Rogers’s murder, and her body, like Baldwin’s, was found in a suitcase in the Lubbock city landfill.”
Prosecutors offered Rodriguez a plea deal for prison time instead of the death penalty. At first, Rodriguez took it, but then when finalizing the deal in court he claimed to not understand the deal or the charges against him. The deal was withdrawn and prosecutors sought the death penalty.
Ultimately, Rodriguez was found guilty and sentenced to death.
He appealed in both state court and federal court.
A federal district court in Lubbock rejected Rodriguez’ claims last year including his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans did likewise in May of this year.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had already rejected his appeal in 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused a writ of certiorari – meaning it won’t even hear Rodriguez’ case.
As of Tuesday, state court records in Lubbock did not yet indicate an execution date.
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