Trial begins for Greeley man accused of trying to kill pregnant girlfriend with 10-pound weights
Manuel Rodriguez faces multiple charges, including attempted first-degree murder, after police say he tried to kill his girlfriend with weights. His trial is scheduled to last through Friday.
The 10-pound weight hit the floor with a smack that seemed deafening compared to the silence of the courtroom.
Up until that point, Weld Deputy District Attorney Mickey Pirraglia had been delivering his opening statement in the case against Manuel Rodriguez, 25, in level, measured tones, and he dropped the weight Tuesday without breaking eye contact with the jury.
Rodriguez faces multiple charges including attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault after his arrest in October 2016. Police and prosecutors say he tried to kill his pregnant girlfriend in the early hours of Oct. 16 with that 10-pound weight. The woman, Maria Mendoza, was able to call 911 as Rodriguez assaulted her but, Pirraglia said, she was unable to speak. Still, police officers were able to find the house where the couple lived in northeast Greeley. When they arrived, they found Rodriguez hitting her.
“He was caught red-handed,” Pirraglia said.
Rodriguez and Mendoza had been together for a few years, Pirraglia said, and on that October night, she was 26 weeks pregnant with their daughter. But the relationship was troubled, and earlier that night the two had gotten into an argument at a Greeley bar. Mendoza left, upset, and went to the house she shared with Rodriguez, intending to hurriedly pack a few things and stay somewhere else for the night. Rodriguez returned before she could leave, Pirraglia said, and attacked her.
According to an arrest affidavit, as she was packing, Rodriguez began punching her in the face. He then threw her into a door, which broke into pieces when she hit it, the report said, and he kept punching and kicking her. As she screamed for help, Rodriguez grabbed two nearby 10-pound dumbbells and began to hit her with them, according to the affidavit. She passed out, and when she woke up, the affidavit stated he hit her again with the weights. She was treated for a large cut to the back of her head, cuts and bruises all over her body and a broken nose. The affidavit stated her face was unrecognizable after the beating.
“She responds by curling up into a ball covering her stomach,” Pirraglia said. “She begged him to stop for the sake of their daughter.”
Rodriguez’s response, Pirraglia said, was, “(Expletive) the baby.”
The baby survived.
Those things were upsetting to hear, said Rodriguez’s attorney, public defender Allison Pearlman, but she told the jurors they needed to set their emotions aside. Rodriguez is charged with attempted first-degree murder, she said, which means prosecutors must prove he intended to kill his girlfriend, even if he didn’t succeed.
“The prosecution will have to prove to you what Mr. Rodriguez was thinking, what was going on in his mind,” Pearlman said.
She went on to point out Mendoza’s injuries are not consistent with attempted murder. She was conscious when officers arrived, and she didn’t stay the night at the hospital, nor did she require surgery. She said police didn’t take into account the fact that Rodriguez was both drunk and high on cocaine at the time of the attack.
“Although police ignored the reason this happened, that will be the central question you need to answer,” she said. “(You need to) strip away the emotion in this case and impose a verdict that is consistent with the evidence before you.”
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