Man gets 25 years in ex-girlfriend's murder

Posted at 8:45 PM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 20:45:02-05

A South Florida man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend in 2011 was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday as part of a plea deal.

Joel Rodriguez, 54, pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge in the killing of Ruth Delia Fuentes. He won't be eligible for early release.

Miami-Dade Judge Ellen Sue Venzer asked Rodriguez if he wanted to say anything to Fuentes' family, who attended Thursday's hearing.

"All I could say is that I'm sorry," he replied.

"No homicide case ever makes sense and this one like so many doesn't make any sense but we do the best we can to try to pick up the pieces," defense attorney Theodore Mastos said.

Fuentes, a passenger services supervisor for American Airlines at Miami International Airport, was found murdered inside her Coral Gables home on Jan. 21, 2011, after co-workers called authorities when she didn't show up for work for two days.

When police entered the home, they found Fuentes, 49, dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

Rodriquez was arrested in Philadelphia on an unrelated charge in February 2011, but he was wanted for questioning in Fuentes' death. He was officially charged with her murder in April 2011.

Rodriguez told detectives he had been arguing with Fuentes but he blacked out and couldn't remember if he killed her, police said.

Fuentes' brother read a statement directed at Rodriguez at the hearing.

"If Ruth was here today we know that she would forgive you, that's just how she was," Dennis Santos said. "I am not my sister."

If Rodriguez had gone to trial and was found guilty his sentence would have been life in prison.


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