After waiting to hear what happened, I finally received news of the sentencing hearing yesterday. Here’s the update from the DA:
“The newly appointed defense attorney filed a “Motion for New Trial” yesterday. He is essentially claiming “Ineffective Assistance of Counsel” as his basis for the motion. So . . . the sentencing was continued to April 22 at which time he will argue the motion. He claims he will have a couple witnesses, including the defendant, testify at the hearing. We will file an opposition to the motion for new trial and cross examine any witnesses that may take the stand in that regard.”
I was hoping this update would bring good news and reason to celebrate. Instead, I’m feeling disappointed and am really struggling to believe that this trial is going to end soon. I just want to move on with my life, but am concerned that the defense is going to win the motion and I’ll have to go through the entire trial process again. I’m striving to cling to the words & scripture that Fr. Agustino CFR continually reminded me in our conversation yesterday: “Do NOT be afraid, TRUST & cover yourself in prayer!”
Thank you to all of you who have been praying so faithfully for me, my recovery, this trial and for the defendant. I don’t know how I would survive without the incredible love and grace that comes from all your prayers! Please pray that I can have peace and accept the outcome of yesterday’s hearing. And please continue to pray for the defendant that she may come to know the incredible love, mercy & forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This morning I finally gave my Victim’s Impact Statement! I wasn’t too nervous since I had some amazing support with me in the courtroom and in spirit. My friend Scott who is an attorney was there and gave me a lot of great advice for addressing the judge and the defendant as well as reminded me that our Blessed Mother was there with me. The district attorney who worked on my case during the preliminary hearing was also there and was also very encouraging. All of your prayers calmed my nerves and gave me the strength to stand up and speak. I’m so grateful for all the love, prayers and support you all have given to me during this difficult time!
Since the defendant has a new attorney (who finally showed up this morning!) the sentencing hearing and their appeal for a new trial has been continued to March of next year so he can have time to read the trial transcript and figure whether they will request a new trial, and, if so, on what grounds. Even though the Defendant’s legal maneuvering delayed her sentencing – again – the judge allowed me to deliver my victim’s impact statement since I flew all the way from Michigan to do so. During the hearing the defendant was busy smiling at her friend and family member who were there whispering to her and taking pictures of her in court until the Bailiff took their camera phone away. The defendant was very callous and nonchalant about what was going on, often smiling. She did, however, listen intensely while I spoke. After I finished she wanted to make a statement of her own, and asked the judge if she could do so. The judge was going to allow the exception (since she made one for me) all the while cautioning her and her attorney that anything she said could still be used against her. In the end she decided not to speak. While this was happening, one of the defendant’s family members turned around to me and gestured for me to pass my info to him! I was shocked since neither she nor her family are allowed to have any contact with me. When we left the courtroom her family member and friend were trying to stay very close to us, listen to us, and intimidate us. They were speaking very loud trying to get my attention and were waiting around for my attorneys and friends to leave probably so they could approach me. My attorneys and friends who were there were all tall (except for Irene the DA for the preliminary hearing) and shielded me from them. We had to move down the hall but the defendant’s family members still followed us and the DA even blocked the elevator until the door closed. Thankfully, a police officer was also in the elevator with us. This trial just keep getting crazier & crazier!!! But everyone there said my impact statement was effective and everything went well. The judge paid close attention to what I was saying and appeared moved when I told her about what it was like being cut in the hospital, and how much pain I still feel today. Here is what I said (as much as I can remember):
My Victim’s Impact Statement:
Good morning your honor. My name is Rosario Rodriguez. I would like to share with you how the events of June 29th have affected my life and then say a few words to the defendant. On June 29th I was robbed and shot in the chest by the defendant. The bullet missed my heart by one centimeter. The fragments of the bullet hit my lungs and they collapsed. It crossed my chest and tore my esophagus. I nearly died. I was rushed into surgery. They took muscle from my side and used it to patch my esophagus. The surgery took 8 hours. After I got out of surgery I could barely keep my jaw up on my own I was so weak. The days in the hospital I was in intense pain and very week. When I was released I couldn’t walk on my own and everyone had to do every thing for me. As you can see I’ve come a long way. But I’m still in constant pain from my incision. There is a lot I still can’t do. I can’t lift my luggage or carry bags that are too heavy. I can’t reach for things high in a cupboard. I’m still not yet fully independent and have to rely on others for many things. I’m in intense physical therapy and as I’m worked on tears from the pain stream down my face.
To the defendant: I want you to know that I have forgiven you for what you have done to me but I hope and pray that you come to take responsibility for your actions. I hope you realize that you nearly killed me. That your actions didn’t just nearly took my life but they affected many people… my family, friends and people from all over the world. Many times as I hold my cousin’s baby I think that you were one centimeter away from my cousin only telling her baby stories about me and that she may not have ever known me. You could have caused my parents so much pain if they had to bury me in the ground. I hope you can come to realize just how much your actions affect other people and know that what you did was wrong and come to change your life. Like I said I do forgive you and I pray for you every day that you may come to know the incredible love, mercy & forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Due to a surprising turn of events the sentencing hearing and victim’s impact statement have been postponed. The defense attorney came into court saying that he received some emails early this morning from the defendant’s family telling him that they have hired another attorney to represent the defendant and that he was available on certain dates two weeks away. The problem was no one could get a hold of this new attorney! He hadn’t contacted the court or spoken with the defendant or the defense attorney. What craziness!!!
The judge was not very pleased about all of this especially since this hearing has been on the calendar for two months! Keeping in mind that I flew out her specifically to give my victim’s impact statement she postponed the hearing until next Friday, Dec.17th while I’m still in town. So I must wait a week!!!
It seems to me that the defendant and her family are trying to pull some sort of stunt! While the judge wanted to rule that it was too late in the trial to hire someone else she choose not to because that could end up being cause for an appeal saying that the defendant wasn’t represented by the counsel she wanted. What drama in the courtroom! There were a lot of very frustrated people there this morning.
My friend Melissa S. was a HUGE support to me during all of this and reminded me that God must have His reasons for postponing! While I wanted to get this done and over with I’m going to do my best to trust in Christ and cling to His peace & joy during this coming week.
Thank you to all of you who have been praying! Your prayers are needed & greatly appreciated!!! I’m just sorry this still isn’t over with.
God is Sovereign! ~Rosario Rodriguez
Filed under Trial, Update
I have news from the latest pre-trial! According to the DA the defendant does not want to plead guilty to an added charge of assault with a deadly weapon so the district attorney’s office has decided not to re-try the case on an assault charge. Sentencing for the charge that the defendant was found guilty for is set for Dec. 10th. She’s looking to at least 30 years – life. I would like to address the court (the judge & the defendant) so I’m hoping to attend the sentencing even though I can’t really afford it!
Unfortunately at that time the defense will be filing a motion for a new trial and of course the District attorney will oppose it.
I’m praying that this can all come to an end and be completely done with on Dec. 10th! This has been a very long and painful process and I desperately want to move on and with God’s grace, (as well as with the help of family & friends) work on creating a new life for myself.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support. There’s no way I could have gotten through this without them!!! Please know that I pray daily for all those who are praying for me and for their intentions.
God is Sovereign!
After three days of deliberation the jury has finally made it’s verdict. It’s good news and bad news. I’ll tell you the good news first! For the 2nd count where the defendant was charged with robbery, discharging a gun and cause of bodily harm the defendant has been found guilty! Now for the bad news….For the 1st count where the defendant was charged with attempted murder (intent to kill) the jury was hung. Apparently a few jurors were hung up on the word ‘intent’. The Deputy District Attorney said that they will try her again for this charge and there’s already a pre-trial date set for Oct. 7th. (I do not have to attend) There will be a sentencing within the next few weeks for the 2nd count and she’s looking at 30 years to life for that.
So…. we (kind of) won!!! But we’re not done yet! It’s been an emotional roller coaster, many times feeling like I’m in a perpetual state of lent. But now I can rejoice over this victory! After sharing the news with my sister Cecilia I was so relieved and thankful that the defendant was convicted guilty of at least one count that I broke down sobbing, thanking Jesus over and over again and kissing him on a beautiful and large San Damiano Crucifix. I’m so grateful that justice has been served and excited that this is almost over!
Thank you all sooo much for the prayers! I can’t imagine going through this without your support and prayers. You’ve all been a HUGE blessing in my life and I can’t thank you enough!
I still haven’t heard from the DA so I’m assuming the jury went home yesterday evening and will be back to deliberate again today.
I woke up at 4am PST and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I prayed for an hour and a half for the jurors and the defendant. Then I prayed Lauds (morning prayer) and after that read the readings for the day. I was struck by the responsorial psalm for today….
Ps 144 “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, my mercy and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, My SHIELD, in whom I trust”.
I decided to look up the rest of the psalm and found comfort in the rest. Here’s a few excerpts: “From the menacing sword deliver me; rescue me from the hands of foreign foes. Their mouths speak untruth; their right hands are raised in lying oaths. Happy the people so blessed; happy the people whose God is the LORD.”
I also prayed psalm 91 this morning which is one of my favorite psalms. I’ve always loved chanting it at compline (night prayer)! And it brought me great comfort during the early morning and I’m sure it will throughout the day! I’ve posted it below.
Thanks for all the prayers, support and encouraging words. They really do mean sooo much to me!!!
- 1 2 You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
- Say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
- God will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague,
- Will shelter you with pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge; God’s faithfulness is a protecting shield.
- You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day,
- Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon.
- Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come.
- You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see.
- You have the LORD for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold.
- No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent.
- 3 For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways.
- With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
- You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon.
- Whoever clings to me I will deliver; whoever knows my name I will set on high.
- All who call upon me I will answer; I will be with them in distress; I will deliver them and give them honor.
- With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power.
I spoke with the DA this evening and he informed me that both sides made their closing arguments until 3pm (PST). The jury went into deliberation around 3:30pm and then left for the day after 4pm and will continue tomorrow morning. Apparently the defense put up an intense argument regarding my ability to identify her (especially in the hospital when shown photos) and questioned the detectives investigation. Please pray for the jury tonight and tomorrow that they will listen carefully to my testimony , believe what I have said and that justice will be served. Also, please continue to pray for the defendant and for her conversion!
Thank you for all your prayers! I’m very grateful for them all. At this time I’m trying to remain peaceful and trust in the Lord that justice will be served!