Despite the heinous nature of the crime for which former Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo was federally charged after the murder of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz, whom he allegedly drugged, hit and threw over a bridge, the boxer’s time of sporting glory and his popularity could have saved from the death penalty as punishment in case of being convicted in the trial on the island.
In an interview with Noticel’s “Push de la Mañana”, lawyer José Lozada reached that conclusion after considering the merits of the evidence and external elements.
According to the expert, federal prosecutors in Puerto Rico and the federal Department of Justice gave up requesting a death sentence due to doubts about their ability to convince the jurors.
“In the case of Verdejo, we know that it is an atrocious case, a lady who was pregnant, a lady who is kidnapped, who is beaten, who is drugged, who later throws her from the Teodoro Moscoso into the water, who shoots her was something atrocious …and that lady with that baby in her womb, and that unborn baby dies. So very sad, a very terrible outcome, “said the lawyer.
“I must think that the complete analysis based on the totality of the circumstances made by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the Secretary of Justice of the United States, is to see the probabilities of success. Although it is a heinous crime, it is necessary to see if they were certainly going to convince the jury so that, after they find him guilty, because it is only after the accused is found guilty, that they go to that second deliberation to determine the sentence of death or not. And in that last exercise, I must think that the attorney general said, ‘we do not have 100% (in no case do we have 100%), those chances of success of achieving that death penalty”, argued Lozada.
“They should have visualized that this man is a boxing fighter, that he was very loved, that there is still these conspiracy theories that he wasn’t or that he was forced, and of all those things that are launched to create doubts in the jury, well, probably, they decided that it was better to focus on finding him guilty and that he be in federal prison for life, ”said the expert.
Additionally, the interviewee highlighted that despite attempts to request the death penalty in other cases on the island, the initiatives have not prospered, in part due to the compassion of Puerto Ricans and the limits imposed by the local Constitution.
“In Puerto Rico, in other cases, sad, violent, serious, the death penalty has been requested, but in PR the death penalty has not been applied. The Constitution of Puerto Rico prohibits the death penalty. In the United States, the death penalty is allowed at the federal level, and we have the Federal District Court of Puerto Rico, and the federal prosecutors petition the Attorney General, that is, the Secretary of Justice of the United States, to authorize in certain crimes the death penalty,” he said.
The “ay, blessed” Puerto Rican would have made a dent
“In Puerto Rico it is very difficult to apply this because of what we call ‘oh, blessed,’ and many times, when this defendant arrives in the courtroom, he arrives chained, in a jumpsuit, but, in the front row, we are going to see a next to the wife, the mother, his grandfather, grandchildren…because they are going to support their son. But, in the same way, the people who are sitting there as a jury, they are human beings, they suffer, they feel, they have feelings, and what that evokes is that feeling of desolation that the death penalty would cause, that of being the executioner of that accused of that heinous crime…”, he considered.
Verdejo, a promise of Puerto Rican boxingrepresented the island in the 2012 Olympics.
But his career took a turn from the precipice when last April he turned himself in to authorities in connection with the murder of Rodríguez Ortiz, 27 years old.
Allegedly, the boxer killed the young woman, with whom he had an unofficial relationship, after learning that she was pregnant by him.
On the day of the events, April 29, the young met with Verdejo to show him a blood test confirming the pregnancy. From that moment, no more was known about his whereabouts until his body was found floating in Laguna San José, between San Juan and Carolina.
Luis Antonio Cádiz Martínez, an alleged accomplice of Verdejo in the events, was the one who confessed the details of the attack on Rodríguez Ortiz, who was iinjected with a mixture of heroin and fentanyl before they fractured her face with blows and threw her tied from a block over the bridge of the metropolitan area. As her body rushed, Verdejo would have shot him twice to the victim without reaching her.
Verdejo faces charges for armed robbery of a vehicle (carjacking) that resulted in the death of a personkidnapping resulting in the death of a person, one count of the murder of an unborn child, and one count of use and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.
Meanwhile, Cádiz Martínez faces three charges for committing a carjacking that resulted in the death of a person, kidnapping resulting in the death of a person and one charge for the murder of a child had not been born.
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Federal prosecutor in Puerto Rico did not give reasons to rule out the death penalty against former boxer Félix Verdejo for the murder of pregnant Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz