PALMDALE – The man who plowed his vehicle through a Palmdale apartment and fatally struck a teenage girl as she slept on Easter Sunday 2014 must stand trial for murder, a judge ruled after day two of a preliminary hearing.
Roberto Rodriguez was held to answer to one count each of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and causing injury, driving with a .08% blood alcohol content and causing injury, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and murder in connection with the April 20 crash that killed 16-year-old Giselle Mendoza.
The decision came Tuesday afternoon after the judge heard recorded interviews detectives conducted with Rodriguez on the day of the fatal crash.
The first recorded interview, which detectives said was conducted a little over an hour after the crash, showed Rodriguez with blood splattered on his face and t-shirt. He said he was drinking with a buddy and was trying to drive home when he fell asleep at the wheel.
“I just remember crashing through the wall… then some guy going crazy on me… saying I killed someone, hitting me repeatedly,” Rodriguez said during the recorded interview.
Rodriguez told detectives he did not want to press charges against the assailant, and he apologized.
“It wasn’t my intention to drive, I just wanted to get home,” Rodriguez said.
In the second recorded interview, which detectives said was conducted about 10 hours after the crash, a cleaned-up Rodriguez is shown with what appears to be a blackened right eye and a cut on the bridge of his nose. When asked, Rodriguez gives details about his activities leading up to the fatal crash.
Rodriguez said he worked a shift at Little Caesars Pizza on April 19, 2014, and then he went home, changed his clothes, and drove his mother’s Nissan Pathfinder to a get-together at a friend’s house on Avenue R-8 and 35th Street East. While there, Rodriguez played beer pong on an empty stomach until the early morning hours, consuming six to seven cans of Bud Light, according to his statements during the recorded interview.
He said he sat in his vehicle for about 10 minutes to try to sober up before driving home. Rodriguez said he was intoxicated, and he remembers “going fast” on the drive home.
“I just remember driving to [Avenue] S, then that’s it. It’s a blur,” Rodriguez said.
“I closed my eyes and next thing you know just crashed,” Rodriguez said later in the interview.
Asked if he could function while intoxicated, Rodriguez said: “Normally, yes. I guess not, if this happened.”
During the recorded interview, the then 20-year-old Rodriguez also told detectives that he had been drinking alcohol for about two years, usually at parties. He said he smoked marijuana occasionally, and he had tried LSD “once or twice” years ago.
The preliminary hearing Tuesday also included testimony from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Eduardo Alatorre, who said Rodriguez’s vehicle jumped a raised curb and went through a fence before crashing through the structural wall of the apartment complex. Nissan technical specialist Timothy Zingerman testified about downloading technical data from the Nissan Pathfinder, which showed that the vehicle was traveling 105 mph five seconds before its airbags deployed.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Robert Hawkins and detectives Aaron Percy and John Heald also gave testimony during day two of the preliminary hearing.
If convicted as charged Rodriguez faces a maximum possible sentence of 15-years-to-life in state prison.
Previous related stories:
Hearing starts for driver accused of crashing through bedroom, killing sleeping teen
Alleged DUI driver charged with murder in Easter Sunday apartment crash
Loved ones mourn girl killed when alleged drunk driver crashed through bedroom
Suspected drunk driver crashes SUV into apartment, teen killed
20 comments for "Murder trial ordered in fatal Easter Sunday apartment crash"
I remember the day of her funeral as if it had just happened yesterday. When I went to the church and her casket was in front of the priest, and saw two parents mourning the death of their 16 yr old daughter, while her friends and family around crying and it was just very sad. I also remember on that very same week, I was at the same church sitting at the same seat, watching a different pair of parents celebrating their 16 year old daughter turn into a woman. I’m eighteen and I’ve also made reckless mistakes behind the wheel, but I know that when it comes down to having a drink, this will be something I’ll keep in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. I hope god forgives him.
I’ve read a previous comment that said someone’s cousin was in jail with him and that he regrets it everyday and he’s unhappy.
Son of B***h!
Luckily he didn’t kill more people while he was basically on a rampage through palmdale. He was at a friends house on 35th street east and R-8, going home he was on S and crashed on 10th street east and R. Thank goodness not more people were hurt or killed. That is scary.
So sad what is going on in the AV. I know so many good kids that get into trouble and they did not start out that way. They need better role models other than drug dealers and gangsters. Parents need to teach them there are consequences.
Friends really need to be responsible as well. Mr. Rodriguez appears to be quite guilty here and this incident will change his life for a long time. Not to mention the life he took. But, there are friends here that should have been responsible as well; and their parents if there are any. No one should have let Mr. Rodriguez drive. He is a black-out drinker from what I read above and that is seriously dangerous as we can all see now. Everyone partying with Mr. Rodriguez should answer for this horrific tragedy. And for all those who drink, let this be a warning for you as well. Don’t let friends drive drunk. It does not take much at all to get to a .08 blood alcohol level; not much at all.
TWO LIFES DESTROYED BY ONE MISTAKE MADE VERY SAD
Cali Palmdale says
A good advise to you young dumb Kid you will never win the case Never. I suggest just take a plea bargain deal you might be better off but will still pay for what you did for years to come you where not going on the right path anyways LSD just stay in there better safer streets. Parents come on don’t say you dint know your kid was drinking beer I wouldn’t believe you if you did say that you should have never let him drive your car we need to be tough to our kids to listen and if they don’t well you are not driving moms or dads car or any car while you live in my house.
Cali Palmdale (dumb name),
The “dumb kid” wont be able to read your suggestion because he is in jail already, so keep your suggestions to yourself. No one cares how you feel, he is paying the consequences, don’t worry about it.
Concerned citizen who hates Cali Palmdale
Concerned citizen who hates Cali Palmdale (dumb name- no better then the post you wasted your time on). Well you either still live here or care enough to read the local paper. If you hate it so much leave and stop reading the local paper and do us all a favor and keep your comments to yourself.
Smh Sucks how this turned about yourselves. Hypocrites.
Cali Palmdale says
Anonymous2 . and to Anonymous I really don’t care am sure one of friends sibling will read it I know the kid messed up but what if that was your brother or family ?? like I said I really don’t care what happens may he get what he deserves Just saying. DONT DRINK AND DRIVE. and I love it out here in the AV I know we have some bad seeds but if we stick tighter we can remove them from here its not safe anywhere if its your time it will happen anywhere.
Responsible law a biding Adult says
You “Concerned Citizen” are ignorant. And probably drink and drive yourself if you disagree with them or you wouldn’t react to the comment this way. There is nothing to fight. He made the choice to drive clearly know he was intoxicated. Does he regret it? I’m pretty sure he does. Is he sorry I believe he is. But guilty is guilty. And you pay for those poor you make. Unfortunately that young girl paid with her life for his poor choice as is her family everyday.
I NEVER said I didn’t think he wasn’t guilty. I think he is going to do his time. ALL of your comments are insensitive to his family who have also lost a child, granted it was his mistake and doing but that doesn’t take away the fact that two families are hurting. What if he was your child or sibling??? Giselle deserves justice and by him doing time and the guilt he will have will forever haunt him! Also, saying that I drink and drive just because I disagree with the aggressive comments towards this situation is ignorant on its own. Bet you never been to school, pick up a book you [removed]!
Responsible Law Abiding Adult says
Well bright one. I am very well educated with several degrees to Show for it. I can relate to both families as I have been in both positions. I lost two loved ones to the ignorance of a drunk driver and several years ago my brother chose to drive after drinking. Killing a young mother and her child. He is suffering from the guilt of his stupid decision but I still believe he deserves every single day he has to serve of his sentencing. As he made that co ice to get behind the wheel knowing damn well what he was risking. Driving after consuming alcohol is the most ignorant, self centered, irresponsible decision one can make.
Needless to say , what’s done is done. You should think about your comments before presuming shallow facts about someone on the internet you never really knew. That person “Anonymous” has a very direct point – it’s pointless to bring more burden to someone who is already being punished greatly for a dire consequence that came out of “Drinking and Driving” even more so to his family. In a sense, “Don’t try to put out fire with fire as it will only get bigger”.
To anon Jan 28 10:40 am writer-
You need to keep your ignorant “suggestions” advice for yourself. Nothing wrong with the user name Cali.
He is a POS. Just dumb drunken alcoholic druggy low life imbecile who had the mind boggling lunacy to not only drive when he was at the black out stage, but to drive over speeds of 100 mph! SMH…Guess the alchie didn’t have a vehicle because he probably never had a driver’s license, or else it was taken away.
Anyway, you’re a snarky nasty worthless creep who has no right attacking others for no reason. So, do yourself a favor and go FYS.
So sad to see all these lives devastated. Especially the young ones.
I remember these days… I use to just go to sleep in my car if I couldn’t drive after a get together. He could have done the same. ANYONE who causes something like this should be held accountable to the consequences. Regardless. God bless you all.
“No” new law could have stop this loss of life. He was drinking under age and driving under the influence. The only thing now is to send him to prison. I know someone is going to say he was a good person and it was a mistake. Drinking and driving ALWAYS has consequences and in this case someone other than the DRUNK died.
Responsible Law Abiding Adult says
Well said Callitasitis.