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Teen admits to having role in stabbing death

June 15, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

It's hard for Edwardo Hernandez to show concern for the future of a 15-year-old boy who admitted to his role in the stabbing death of Hernandez's 22-year-old nephew, the Hagerstown man told a Washington County Circuit judge sitting in juvenile court Wednesday.

A 15-year-old boy, who originally was charged as an adult in Eliezer Rodriguez's Dec. 10, 2005, stabbing death, admitted Wednesday in Washington County juvenile court to involuntary manslaughter for his role in the street fight during which Rodriguez was stabbed in the chest and heart.

Involuntary manslaughter is the wanton and reckless disregard for human life without the specific intent to kill, according to Maryland law.

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"In my opinion, he's getting off too easy in this thing," Hernandez told Circuit Judge John H. McDowell. "He brought (the fight) over here."

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler told McDowell that the Frederick, Md., teen "took part in the fight. He kicked Eliezer while he was lying on the ground." She said the boy "did not have a knife."

Hernandez said Eliezer Rodriguez "was just starting his life" when he was killed. He told McDowell that "just because (the boy) was 14 years old" at the time of the crime and because his mother is concerned about him, he should not be punished less severely.

McDowell ordered the teen to remain at a juvenile detention facility while the Department of Juvenile Services completes a background investigation to prepare for his disposition, the juvenile equivalent of sentencing.

The maximum penalty in Maryland for any youth found involved in a crime is placement outside their home until age 21.

The boy originally was charged as an adult with first-degree and second-degree murder, among other charges, in Rodriguez's death, but attorneys for both sides asked that the case be transferred last week to juvenile court.

A juvenile petition was filed in place of the original adult charging document, charging the boy with the sole count of manslaughter, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence for an adult, Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell said.

On the night of the stabbing, the teen arrived in a van at about 1 a.m. in the 100 block of West North Avenue, where Eliezer Rodriguez and his stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, were walking, Pauler said. A fight broke out between two groups of people, she said.

Cesar Rodriguez was stabbed in the back but survived his injuries. Eliezer Rodriguez was found with stab wounds to "his chest and heart," Pauler said. He was pronounced dead after he was taken to Washington County Hospital, she said.

The teen's co-defendant, Angel Teodoro Villatoro, 36, pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter in Eliezer Rodriguez's death and first-degree assault for stabbing Cesar Rodriguez.

A presentence investigation was ordered for Villatoro. A date for his sentencing has not been set, according to court records.

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