Texas High Court Rejects Plea to Stop Execution of Rosendo Rodriguez

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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday denied the latest request by Rosendo Rodriguez to get off of death row.

In March 2008, a jury found Rodriguez guilty of the 2005 murder of Summer Baldwin.  He was then sentenced to death.  Rodriguez was also implicated in the disappearance and murder of Joanna Rogers.  

The execution date has been set for March 27.  

In February, Rodriguez’s legal team filed a motion to stay his execution.  The motion accused prosecutors of misconduct for not telling the defense team about a lawsuit against Lubbock County Chief Medical Examiner Sridhar Natarajan.  

The lawsuit, and later a settlement, happened roughly 10 years after Rodriguez was convicted.  

A judge denied the motion to stay Rodriguez’s execution, and a few days later Rodriguez’s defense team filed a writ.  

The writ and the motion were the same in terms of what they claimed.  The two were simply different legal procedures for the same request. 

On Monday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the writ.  The ruling made reference to two sections of state law.  In essence, Rodriguez needed to prove he raised issues that could not have been raised before.  

“Applicant has failed to make a prima-facie showing that he has met the requirements of [state law],” the ruling said.  “Accordingly, we dismiss this application as an abuse of the writ without reviewing the merits of the claims raised.”

Related Story: Judge Denies Request to Stop Execution of Rodriguez, More Legal Wrangling Follows 

The following is the order from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals: 

Per curiam.
O R D E R

We have before us a subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant
to the provisions of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 11.071 § 5 and a motion to stay applicant’s execution.

In March 2008, a jury found applicant guilty of the 2005 capital murder of Summer
Baldwin. The jury answered the special issues submitted pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.071, and the trial court, accordingly, set applicant’s punishment at death. This Court affirmed applicant’s conviction and sentence on direct appeal. Rodriguez v. State, No. AP-75,901 (Tex. Crim. App. Mar. 16, 2011) (not designated for publication).

In his initial application for a writ of habeas corpus, applicant raised allegations regarding whether he was able to engage in meaningful voir dire, jury misconduct, the constitutionality of the mitigation issue, the admission of autopsy photographs, and ineffective assistance of counsel claims. This Court denied relief on the claims. Ex parte Rodriguez, No. WR-78,127-01 (Tex. Crim. App. May 8, 2013) (not designated for publication).

On March 12, 2018, applicant filed the instant writ application in the trial court. Applicant raises four claims in this application. Specifically, applicant claims that: the State used a discredited forensic scientist to deprive him of a fundamentally fair trial and convict him in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights; the State violated its Brady (1) obligations by failing to disclose a quarter-million-dollar settlement paid to a former employee of the Lubbock County coroner’s office; the prosecutor engaged in misconduct; and applicant is actually innocent.

Applicant has failed to make a prima facie showing that he has met the requirements of either Article 11.071 § 5 or Article 11.073. Accordingly, we dismiss this application as an abuse of the writ without reviewing the merits of the claims raised. Art. 11.071 § 5(c). Applicant’s motion to stay his execution is denied.

IT IS SO ORDERED THIS THE 19th DAY OF MARCH, 2018. 

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