Gulliford used all her strength to try to sit up so that she would not strike the pavement.
Rodriguez stopped briefly, then sped off again down Federal Street, with Gulliford still hanging from the side of the car. As they traveled down the narrow one-way street, an off-duty Treasury agent stepped out and got the car to stop again. Gulliford managed to free herself but landed near a front wheel. As Rodriguez sped off again, he ran over her arm, breaking her elbow.
Her father, Rick Gulliford, shudders when he thinks of what could have happened.
“He could have run over her head,” said Eileen Carey, a close family friend who helped raise Rikki Gulliford.
Rodriguez drove away that day and was not caught until more than two months later. Salem police Detective John Doyle and Sgt. William Jennings, who worked on the case, also attended yesterday’s hearing.
The sentence came after extensive negotiations.
Last fall, Rodriguez tried to offer a guilty plea to some of the charges in return for a short term in the house of correction; prosecutors wanted a longer state prison term, and a judge said he needed time to mull his decision. In the following months, Schmidt filed a motion to dismiss some charges, arguing that Rodriguez did not realize that he was dragging the young woman with his car.
“To say that this joint recommendation is the product of lengthy negotiations would truly be an understatement,” said Friedholm, the prosecutor, who urged Feeley to accept the deal, sparing Gulliford from having to testify.
Under the terms of the agreement, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to four charges: assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (the car), causing serious bodily injury; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (the pavement); assault and battery; and driving after license suspension. He received the prison term for the first charge, along with concurrent jail terms on the assault and battery and driving after suspension counts.