A state-prison inmate wants relief from his sentence for stabbing a man outside a Lancaster bar in 2010, claiming his co-defendant girlfriend has testimony that would vindicate him.
A Lancaster County jury convicted Santos Luis Rodriguez in 2011 – deliberating only 20 minutes – of aggravated assault and robbery regarding the crimes outside Lee’s Deli.
County President Judge Dennis Reinaker, considering Rodriguez’s 1997 conviction for killing a man, ordered a sentence of 24 to 60 years in prison.
Rodriguez, now 50, argues his girlfriend – who pleaded guilty to luring the victim into the robbery and was recently paroled – is able to testify that Rodriguez didn’t stab Darinel Gonzalez.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court, on Wednesday afternoon, denied that claim, ruling that Maria Rivera’s testimony would have no merit considering she previously admitted to standing next to Rodriguez when he stabbed Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, who was asked for money by Rivera and agreed to give her money in exchange for sex, was stabbed from behind as he and the woman walked away from the bar together. He survived after life-saving surgery.
The Superior Court agreed with Judge Reinaker’s “well-reasoned” denial of Rodriguez’s previous appeal.
Assistant District Attorney Amber Czerniakowski countered Rodriguez’s appeal.
Rodriguez also argued on appeal that his trial attorney was ineffective for not stressing to the jury that a knife, the assault weapon, found in Rodriguez’s backpack didn’t have blood on it.
The appeals court, in dismissing that claim, notes that Rodriguez was arrested hours after the stabbing – “ample time to clean the knife,” Reinaker wrote in his denial of appeal.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter regarding the 1997 conviction for killing 31-year-old Robert Bounds.
Lancaster city police Detective Mike Winters filed charges in the 2010 case.
(See CrimeWatch/Twitter for Rodriguez' photo.)
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