The trial of an Iowa man who was charged with killing his grandfather and lighting his house on fire last year has been pushed forward by the court in order to give the defense more time for further evaluations and preparations.
According to a report in the daily Sioux City Journal, District Judge Duane Hoffmeyer on Friday rescheduled the trial for 20-year-old Santos Rodriguez Jr. for Sept. 18, 2018, in Sioux County District Court. The trial was initially scheduled to begin on May 1.
Rodriguez Jr. was accused of stabbing his 84-year-old grandfather Luis Luevanos multiple times and then setting fire to the bedroom in which his body was lying. Luevanos’ body was discovered by firefighters afterward when they responded to a fire call at his home in the 1400 block of 1th Street in Rock Valley, a city in Sioux County, Iowa.
During investigations, it was discovered that his then 19-year-old grandson had traveled to Utah following the fire. When the Division of Criminal Investigation agents traveled to Utah and interviewed Rodriguez Jr., police officials said he admitted to stabbing his grandfather and intentionally setting a fire afterward.
Rodriguez Jr. was arrested on Nov. 9, 2017, and charged with first-degree murder, a class A felony and first-degree arson, a class B felony in connection with the case.
The new developments in the case come after public defender Jason Dunn said in his motion for continuance that an expert was retained to evaluate Rodriguez Jr’s case. Dunn added that it was highly likely that notices of defenses will be filed but additional time would be required in order to interview and evaluate Rodriguez Jr.
Reports state that if found guilty, Rodriguez Jr. might face a mandatory life sentence in prison without parole. First-degree arson carries a 25-year prison sentence.
In a fairly similar incident, a 34-year-old man named Scott Langford of Dieterich, Idaho, was charged with being “an armed habitual criminal, a class X felony along with aggravated discharge of a firearm, a Class 1 felony, being a felon in possession of firearm ammunition, a Class 3 felony, reckless discharge of a firearm, a Class 4 felony, and possession of a weapon by a felon, a Class 3 felony.”
Langford was at his home in Dieterich in October 2017 when a man came to his house in search of his daughters. Reports state that the two men then had an argument and Langford ended up firing a shotgun at the man, striking the door frame. Langford was later arrested.
In the case, the Defense Attorney Lupita Thompson moved to change the court dates of the trial as she required more time to study all the evidence, which was granted by the court. In addition to this, Thompson told the court that she had several issues with the data provided by the prosecution, including video recordings and cell phone logs.
Langford was eventually granted an extension and is now due in court on May 9 or a pretrial conference.