Former Puerto Rican boxer Felix Verdejo has been found guilty of two of the four felonies charged in connection with the death of his 27-year-old pregnant lover, Keishla Rodriguez Ortiz, by a jury. The 12-member panel found Verdejo guilty of one count of kidnapping leading to Rodriguez Ortiz’s death and causing the death of an unborn child.
However, the jury failed to reach a consensus on the charges of carjacking leading to death and carrying a firearm to commit a violent crime. The 25-day trial revealed harrowing details about Rodriguez’s death in April 2021, leading to the verdict.
The federal prosecution built their case on the testimonies of more than 30 individuals, a key one being Luis Antonio Cadiz, a friend of Verdejo and a co-defendant in this case. Cadiz pleaded guilty last year after a plea deal with the prosecutors, although he hasn’t been sentenced yet. He testified that Verdejo pressured Rodriguez to abort the pregnancy before she was killed.
Cadiz further detailed the grim events of the day of Rodriguez’s death. He said Verdejo beat Rodriguez and injected her with a substance he believed to be heroin. Following this, they tied her legs to a cement block and threw her into a lagoon from a busy bridge in broad daylight.
A pathologist who testified in court confirmed that Rodriguez was still alive when she was thrown off the bridge. The horrifying details of the crime drew widespread condemnation in Puerto Rico and demands for more effective protection against domestic violence.
“We stand firmly with the family of Keishla Rodriguez Ortiz and all those in the community who sought justice in the face of this senseless, cruel, and vile act of premeditated, cold-blooded violence,” U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow declared in a statement.
Cadiz further testified that he made an anonymous 911 call a few days after the incident to provide the location of Rodriguez’s body. An autopsy confirmed that Rodriguez had fentanyl and xylazine, a veterinary sedative, in her system at the time of her death.
The fallout from this brutal crime has led to widespread public outrage in Puerto Rico, with many demanding more robust measures from authorities to protect victims of domestic violence. The case has drawn national attention and led to calls for justice for the victims of such heinous acts.
U.S. District Judge Pedro Delgado Hernandez has set the sentencing date for November 3. Verdejo could potentially face life imprisonment.
Verdejo, who represented Puerto Rico in the 2012 London Olympics, turned professional the same year. With a record of 27-2 and 17 knockouts, Verdejo fought in the lightweight division before this tragic incident effectively ended his career.