Not guilty plea entered for 18-year-old suspect charged in 3 homicides

Prosecutors consider pursuing death penalty
Posted at 7:41 AM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 11:48:02-05

The attorney for one of three men facing charges in the deaths of three teenagers entered a not guilty plea for his client Wednesday morning.

A grand jury had earlier indicted Joel Rodriguez, 18, on murder and robbery charges. That means there is enough probable cause for prosecutors to move forward with trying the case in court.

Rodriguez's attorney also said he anticipates state prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the case.

A spokesperson from the state attorney’s office said prosecutors are still considering whether to pursue the death penalty. 


“At least in my experience, when there are multiple dead bodies on separate incidents with a break in time between, that is usually a type of case the state will seek to execute the accused,” said Robert Gorshman, a defense attorney the court appointed to represent Rodriguez.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested Rodriguez in December 2016.

Detectives believe Rodriguez and two others are behind the slayings of teenagers Dalton Dobkins in Wellington, as well as Aaron Valle and Elijah Montas in West Palm Beach.

Detectives said the defendants also robbed all three victims.

Authorities arrested Rodriguez after responding to a break-in in Lantana. Police said the 18-year-old shot at them before they arrested him.

The other two men facing charges in these murder cases, Carlos Hernandez and Augustine Rivera, will be in court next month.