http://www.lubbockonline.com/stories/052407/loc_052407033.shtmlJudge denies change of venue request in Rodriguez trial for Baldwin murderBY HENRI BRICKEY5/23/07
A Lubbock judge ruled Wednesday that Rosendo Rodriguez III will face capital murder charges in Lubbock, denying his request for a change of venue.
Rodriguez is charged with the 2005 beating death of Summer Baldwin. He also is a suspect in the disappearance of Lubbock teen Joanna Rogers, who went missing in May 2004. Her body was found last year.
Richard Wardroup, the attorney representing Rodriguez, argued earlier this month that intense media coverage of the case would make it impossible for Rodriguez to get a fair trial in Lubbock County.
But Judge Jim Bob Darnell ruled against Wardroup's request Wednesday. "Publicity alone is not sufficient enough to warrant the case being transferred," Darnell said.
Darnell added that it would probably be difficult to find 12 impartial Lubbock jurors, but he wants to try to keep the trial local. If it becomes an issue, attorneys would address it when it arises.
Matt Powell, Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney, said he is open to moving the trial if no impartial jurors can be found in Lubbock County.
"Then I'll be the first one to say we need to go," Powell said. Jury selection should take place sometime in early September, Darnell said.
Rodriguez was arrested more than a year ago on suspicion of murdering 29-year-old Baldwin, whose body was discovered Sept. 13, 2005, inside a suitcase at a city-owned landfill, about 15 miles north of Lubbock..
He was later indicted on a charge of capital murder and accused of raping the mother of four and killing her unborn child. Baldwin was five weeks pregnant at the time of her death.
Rodriguez was expected to plead guilty to Baldwin's death in October but then withdrew his plea at the last minute. Powell has said he intends to seek the death penalty in Rodriguez's trial.
Investigators have also named Rodriguez as a suspect in the disappearance of Rogers, whose body was found in the same landfill where Baldwin's body was found. Rodriguez has not been charged in connection with Rogers' disappearance.
He is being held at the Lubbock County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.