Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Puerto Rico responds to Félix Verdejo’s request for lawyers in the murder of Keishla Rodríguez

Boxer Félix Verdejo could face the death penalty if convicted of the murder of Keishla Rodríguez.

Photo: Sarah Stier / Getty Images

In a response released this Monday by the Lo Sé Todo program, the federal prosecutor’s office in Puerto Rico questioned the ability of boxer Félix Verdejo to pay for the lawyers who will represent him the case for the kidnapping and murder of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz, for which he is exposed to life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted.

In the document of the head of the federal prosecutor’s office in Puerto Rico, Stephen Muldrow, it is questioned if at this stage of the proceedings it is worthwhile to assign more than two lawyers.

Although at the beginning three lawyers were mentioned as those representing Verdejo, Laura Maldonado, the expert in death penalty cases, David Ruhnke, and José Irizarry Pérez; When presenting its position, the prosecution refers to two lawyers. Irizarry Pérez would have been the lawyer hired by Verdejo’s mother.

Assignment of more lawyers in discretionary

In response, the prosecution argues that although they do not oppose the appointment of attorneys through the Criminal Justice Act under local rule 144 A, the decision under that provision is discretionary.

“The local rule does not expressly contemplate the appointment of two or more attorneys in addition to the hired attorney. On the contrary, the local rule discusses the appointment of two attorneys in capital case ”, reads part of the answer.

Federal prosecutors in Puerto Rico believe that Verdejo can pay for his legal defense

In the opinion of former federal prosecutor María Domínguez, what the document exposes is the doubt that Verdejo does not have the money to pay for his legal defense.

“Well, the federal prosecutor’s office is expressing itself because it is questioning that Félix Verdejo does not have the money to pay for his own defense and to hire the necessary lawyers, including experts in the death penalty process, because he already has a private lawyer who has been hired and is representing him jointly with Ms. Maldonado in the case, “said the expert.

Domínguez also explained that before the case is certified as a capital punishment, must go through a previous steps.

“This case is eligible for the death penalty because it has what are called particular findings that entitle it to be certified as a death penalty case. This has its process that culminates in a decision made by the Death Penalty Committee of the Department of Justice in Washington, receiving input from the information developed by the defense during its mitigation investigation, it also receives a recommendation from the federal prosecutor’s office of Puerto Rico. .

Taking all that into consideration, you make a decision whether to get certified or not. In that district, that of Puerto Rico, there are cases that have been certified and there are cases that have not, that have been eligible, but have not been certified, ”explained the lawyer.

Verdejo Sánchez and the alleged crony Luis Antonio Cádiz Martínez face a charge of car theft resulting in death; one count of kidnapping resulting in death; and a charge for killing an unborn child.

The first two charges led federal authorities to take over the case.

In addition, the Puerto Rican boxer faces a charge for using and carrying a firearm during and in connection with a crime of violence.

The alleged events that led to the death of Keishla Rodríguez in Puerto Rico

According to the information that Cádiz Martínez himself provided to an FBI agent who initially prepared the federal complaint, Verdejo contacted him on April 29 to help him askidnap and murder the young woman that the boxer was supposedly pregnant.

Verdejo would have summoned Rodríguez Ortiz to an area of ​​the metropolitan area of ​​Puerto Rico not far from her apartment in the Villa Esperanza residential area to talk about the pregnancy.

Keishla’s mother, Keila Ortíz Rivera, told the media that her daughter would carry the positive blood result of the pregnancy test with her. According to the woman’s testimony, Verdejo did not want her to have the baby and had asked her to have an abortion.

The indictment indicates that Verdejo punched Keishla in the face in his vehicle before they both injected him with fentanyl and heroin. When the young woman was unconscious but alive, they tied her hands and feet and they launched it with a block to the San José lagoon from the Teodoro Moscoso bridge. While the body of the victim plunged into the water, Verdejo shot him at least twice without hitting her. Keishla, 27, died of suffocation by immersion, according to the autopsy carried out by forensic experts on the island.

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