HOUSTON – The suspect in a string of crimes in the Houston area, including three homicides, appeared in court Monday.
Wearing a yellow uniform and escorted by deputies, Rodriguez entered the courtroom and seemed to nod as the judge, prosecutors and his defense attorney spoke about the case. He briefly looked at cameras as he was led out of the courtroom at the end of the hearing.
Rodriguez is charged with capital murder in the slayings of Pamela Johnson, at her Cypress home, and Edward Magana, at a Mattress One store in north Houston.
He is also a suspect in the death of Allie Barrow, at a Mattress Firm store in northwest Houston, the shooting and robbery of a METROLift driver and a home invasion in which a car was stolen.
Rodriguez was arrested after leading authorities on a chase. A gun was found in his vehicle, investigators said.
After Monday's hearing, prosecutors said the investigation is in its early stages.
"We are working on getting ballistic testing, but when he was arrested, he was arrested with a revolver in the passenger seat next to him, and we believe that is probably consistent with the murder weapon he used in the capitals," prosecutor Samantha Knecht said.
Knecht said that prints found on the vehicle that was stolen during the home invasion match Rodriguez.
Rodriguez's lawyer, Anthony Osso, admitted that the case will be a tough one.
"Every time you have a client with multiple capital murders, it's an uphill battle," Osso said. "We just ask people to be patient, hear all the facts (and) not jump to conclusions. That's why I have asked seasoned lawyers to assist because it is a difficult case."
Osso said he is still waiting on the state to turn over the evidence it has during the discovery process and a mental evaluation of his client before he decides what route he will take.
Previously, Rodriguez had served 25 years in prison for a sexual assault, burglary and car theft before he was sent to a halfway house under the state’s 1977 mandatory release law.
Investigators said Rodriguez cut off his ankle monitor before he started the eight-day spree.