Monday, June 14, 2021

The Sentencing of Elizabeth Rodriguez

“Hitting a lick”

By Robert A. Waters

Elizabeth Rodriguez told reporter Tina Whitworth, “I feel guilty, but not responsible” for the deaths of Maxwell Cook, 18, Jacob Redfearn, 18, and Jaykob Woodruff, 15.

The March 27, 2017 home invasion near Broken Arrow, Oklahoma had gone incredibly bad. Rodriguez, single mother of three children, had planned the heist and coerced the trio to go along with her plan. (Earlier that morning, they had broken into the home’s detached garage and stolen electronic equipment and liquor.) Now, in the mid-afternoon, they were back to ransack the main dwelling.

Later, a Wagoner County probable cause affidavit stated that “Rodriguez planned the burglary and took the three suspects to the residence on two separate occasions on today’s date wanting to steal items. [She] instructed the three suspects to burglarize the residence while she waited in the driveway in her vehicle...”

After kicking in a back door to the large brick home, the masked intruders entered the kitchen. 

Zachary Peters, 23, lay sleeping when he heard “loud bangs” and glass breaking. Frightened, he grabbed his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and stepped into the hallway. He saw three men standing in the kitchen. Each wore masks, gloves, and dark clothing. After a brief verbal exchange, Peters opened fire. He then retreated to his bedroom and called 9-1-1.

Outside, Rodriguez heard the gunshots. Seconds later, Jaykob Woodruff stumbled out to the getaway car. He informed Rodriguez he’d been shot, then fell to the pavement. Rodriguez sped off.

Peters told the dispatcher that “one [invader is] in the kitchen, one crawled into the northeast corner bedroom, and the third one I did not shoot. He ran outside.” Peters was mistaken, all three died at the scene.

He later testified that he was afraid for his life. When asked if the suspects had harmed him, he said, “I didn’t give them time to.”

This was not the first break-in the group had committed. Rodriguez admitted that they had done other “licks” in the area. Often, they drove around casing homes in expensive neighborhoods, then fenced the items they stole. She informed investigators that the three teens had not wanted to go back to the Peters residence that day, but she talked them into it.

Even though the Wagoner County District Attorney stated he felt bad for the parents of the deceased intruders, Peters was not charged with any crime. In fact, it was an open and shut case of self-defense.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and received three consecutive 45 year sentences. 

In an unusual twist to this story, none of the teens had police records. In each case, they had strayed from the teachings of loving parents. Max Cook, for instance lived with both parents in a traditional family setting. He played guitar, went to church, and graduated from high school. Yet, even though Rodriguez was five years his senior and had three young children, Max became enamored with the California native. He moved in with her and they began stealing for living.

The deaths of the three teens rocked Oklahoma. Many residents wondered how normal teenagers who grew up in loving homes could make such bad choices. Others asked why the victim (Peters) needed to use a semi-automatic weapon to defend himself. Some questioned the Castle Doctrine law prevalent in Oklahoma and many other states. A handful disapproved of the Felony Murder law that allowed Rodriguez to be charged with murder even though she didn't kill anyone.

One thing is clear. Oklahoma is better off with Elizabeth Rodriguez in prison for the rest of her existence. Her negative influence on three teenagers cost them their lives. For that, she should not be forgiven. 


2 comments:

Foster Coker said...

Very interesting. I have the same sympathy for home invaders I have for child molesters and rapists...none whatsoever. Let her rot.

Unknown said...

Taking out the trash