By Alex Figueroa Cancel
PUERTO RICO – The United States Department of Justice has not determined whether it will seek the death penalty against boxer Félix Verdejo in relation to the murder of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz.
This was reported by the federal prosecutor’s office during a virtual status hearing that took place this Friday before Judge Pedro Delgado.
Prosecutor Jonathan L. Gottfried reported that this process is in “early stages.”
“It would be premature to set a time (of when there will be a decision) for that,” said the prosecutor.
“I may have one for the next status hearing. We will speak with the defense in relation to any time frame ”, he added.
Faced with this situation, the defense attorneys requested that a status hearing be established in 60 or 90 days to find out if by that time a decision has already been made that would help determine the course that the legal team would take to represent the accused. .
“We are assembling the defense team at this time, assuming it will be a capital case, which is what the Constitution (of the United States) requires us to do, until we know differently from the prosecution,” said David Arthur Ruhnke, attorney. de Verdejo, an expert in death penalty cases.
Next viewing for the end of September
His counterpart in Luis Cádiz Martínez’s defense, Gary Edward Proctor, agreed with Runke and suggested a status hearing date for the end of September.
The prosecutor reacted by stating that “a hearing in 90 days will give us good time to have a better idea of where this is heading in relation to the capital process, as well as the delivery of more evidence to the defense attorneys.”
Trial discovery is available for defense
Meanwhile, Gottfried reported that on Thursday he advised that he was already available to deliver the first test discovery, to the defense, and that he could pick it up yesterday or next week. There were so many digital documents that the package amounted to 21 gigabytes (GB).
According to the prosecutor, they continue to “work” with the defense for “logistics” in the delivery of evidence for the prosecution.
For his part, Judge Delgado set his hearing for September 27, stopping the count of the terms for speedy trial until the next hearing, finding that the defense needs time to review the evidence.
Family members of Rodríguez Ortiz were listening at the virtual hearing, according to court personnel.
Verdejo faces four federal criminal charges, while Cádiz Martínez weighs three. The case was assigned to federal judge Pedro Delgado, who issued a gag order to prevent public disclosure of any information that has not been published without restriction in the case file or that has not been openly discussed at any hearing.
A grand jury charged them with carjacking and kidnapping., which resulted in the death of one person. Both also face a charge for the death of an unborn baby.
Verdejo faces four criminal charges for Keishla’s murder
Verdejo was charged with a fourth count, which consists of the use of a firearm to commit a violent crime.
Although a charge of “murder for hire” was not included, in a press release the federal prosecutor’s office indicated that the case was eligible for the death penalty because, among other matters, Verdejo “sought the commission of the offense by payment or promise of payment ”, while Cádiz Martínez“ committed the offense as a consideration for the receipt or in the expectation of receiving something of value ”.
The prosecution also alleged that each defendant “intentionally killed the victim (Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz)” and committed a heinous, cruel and depraved offense that involved the physical abuse of the victim. “
It also pointed out that they committed the offense “after substantial planning and premeditation to cause death of the victim ”.
The FBI complaint
According to the investigation of the Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, in English), Verdejo contacted Cádiz Martínez and asked for help to end Rodríguez Ortiz’s pregnancy, after the young woman informed the boxer that she was pregnant with her son, based on the result of a test that had been carried out.
The FBI complaint does not identify Cádiz Martínez, but his participation became known later, when he was included together with Verdejo in the indictment issued by a federal grand jury.
Cádiz Martínez’s cooperation with the authorities was confirmed by criminal lawyer Edwin Prado, who revealed that he was contacted by him to coordinate the way in which he would inform the authorities about what happened.
According to the FBI complaint, Verdejo contacted the victim on April 29 and “arranged to meet near her residence. Verdejo and the witness drove to the meeting in the black Dodge Durango bus ”.
The victim arrived at the meeting in his vehicle, which was a gray Kia Forte, which was later found in Canóvanas, and got into Verdejo’s vehicle.
“After the conversation between Verdejo and the victim in Verdejo’s vehicle, Verdejo hit the victim in the face and injected him with a syringe full of substances bought at a drug store in (the Llorens Torres residential area),” the statement indicates. sworn.
“Verdejo and the witness (cooperator Cádiz Martínez) then tied the victim by the arms and feet with a cable,” he added. “A block was tied to the victim.”
There, he added, “the victim was removed from the vehicle and thrown over one side of the bridge into the water. Verdejo shot the victim with a pistol from the bridge ”.
“The FBI reviewed the footage from the security cameras of Teodoro Moscoso,” the complaint highlights. He points out that at around 8:29 in the morning of that day a bus “consistent with the appearance of Verdejo’s vehicle parked on the bridge promenade. There is visible movement of at least one individual on the side of the vehicle, “says the affidavit, without specifying what type of” movement is observed. “
“The video then shows the bus leaving the place and returning to a point near the bridge on at least two occasions. The bus leaves at approximately 9:31 in the morning, ”stated the federal complaint.
Rodríguez Ortiz’s body was found on Saturday, May 1 on the Isla Verde shore of the San José lagoon, near the Teodoro Moscoso bridge, where the police seized at least one shell casing.
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