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Local News

November 29, 2012

Judge mulls sentence in dragging case

SALEM — He dragged his former girlfriend down a Salem street, the length of a football field, with a car. Then, as he fled the scene, he ran over her. His victim spent days in the hospital covered with “road rash” and underwent surgery on a broken elbow.

But how much time should Daniel Rodriguez spend behind bars? And where?

Those were the questions a Salem Superior Court judge was grappling with yesterday during an unusual public “lobby conference” in the case of Commonwealth v. Daniel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 23, of Jamaica Plain, is charged with multiple assault and battery counts in the incident last Dec. 22 on Federal Street, in the city’s historic McIntire District.

If not for two bystanders, a doctor and an off-duty Treasury agent, the young woman, then 18, might have suffered far-greater injuries that day, after her foot became trapped between the door and the passenger seat of the car Rodriguez had rented. She had been trying to get away from Rodriguez, after he pulled over on North Street and began pummeling her, prosecutor Greg Friedholm said.

The young woman had managed to escape an increasingly controlling and abusive Rodriguez two weeks earlier, after he began limiting her contact with family and friends and beating her. But on the day of the incident, he’d shown up at her home, pleading with her for a chance to talk.

Friedholm believes that Rodriguez should spend eight to 10 years in state prison for the crime.

But Rodriguez’s lawyer, Mark Schmidt, has a dramatically different view of the appropriate punishment, suggesting that his client serve a much-shorter, house-of-correction term. Lowy pointed out that such a sentence would entitle Rodriguez to parole after he served half of it, unlike state prison.

Schmidt pointed to the defendant’s difficult childhood, including periods where he was living with his aunt and grandmother because his own mother was addicted to drugs, and his diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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