Puerto Rican former boxer Felix Verdejo pleaded not guilty on Tuesday. for him kidnapping and murder of Keishla Rodríguez Ortizwith whom she had an unofficial relationship and was pregnant at the time of the events.
The report of the newspaper El Vocero indicates that this it is the second time that Verdejo pleads not guilty to the crime that shocked Puerto Rico and the world.
In May 2021, the former fighter, prosecuted by the US authorities in Puerto Rico, already had pleaded not guilty at arraignment. This means that Verdejo will officially face trial for the four federal charges he faces.
At the hearing yesterday for the reading of the formal accusation, attended only by the ex-athlete’s lawyer, José Irrizary Pérez; the defense notified the magistrate Camille Vélez Rivé about the plea of not guilty to which her client accepted.
Both Verdejo and his alleged accomplice, Luis Cádiz Martínez, face charges of carjacking resulting in death, kidnapping resulting in deathuse of a firearm during the commission of a crime and murder of an unborn child, in reference to the baby that Rodríguez Ortiz was carrying in her womb.
Yesterday’s appearance took place after the federal prosecutor’s office decided not to ask for the death penalty for the former boxer and the co-defendant in case they are convicted.
At the end of January, the United States Department of Justice announced its determination after months of waiting, although without explaining the reasons that weighed in the decision.
“The United States of America (the Public Ministry) notifies the court that they will not seek the death penalty in the case against Félix Verdejo-Sánchez and Luis Antonio Cádiz-Martínez,” reads the notification signed by the head of the federal prosecutors in the island, Stephen Muldrown.
Verdejo and Cádiz-Martínez are now exposed to a life sentence in case of being found guilty for the kidnapping that resulted in the death of Rodríguez Ortiz and the unborn baby.
Cádiz Martínez, who confessed the facts to federal agents and basically testified against Verdejo, faces his indictment hearing today. According to the El Vocero report, his lawyer, José Aguayo, has already notified the court in writing that he will also waive his right to appear at the hearing. Likewise, the defendant, through his legal representative, will plead not guilty on all counts.
Cádiz-Martínez detailed to the authorities what happened on April 29, 2021, the day that Verdejo agreed to meet Rodríguez Ortiz, 27, to show him the results of a blood test that confirmed her pregnancy with the boxer.
According to the evidence available to the investigators, which was supported by the testimony of Cádiz Martínez, Verdejo punched the victim in the face several times, injected him with a mixture of heroin and fentanyl that left her unconscious, tied her hands and feet, before both transferred her in the trunk of her Dodge Durango bus to the Teodoro Moscoso bridge, in the metropolitan area between San Juan and Carolina. From there, they threw his body into the San José lagoon. Verdejo would have shot Rodríguez Ortiz on at least two occasionswithout reaching her, while her body rushed into the water.
In addition to the statements of the buddy, the federal authorities have telephone records between the accused and the victim, security videos of the Teodoro Moscoso bridge and a bullet casing found near the place where the body was thrown.
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