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November 29, 2012

Judge mulls sentence in dragging case

(Continued)

Now it’s up to Judge David Lowy what to offer as a sentence. But with two very disparate sentencing recommendations from the two sides, the judge isn’t sure what to do.

“My usual response in this situation is to say, ‘Let’s impanel a jury,’” the judge told the lawyers.

Schmidt, the defense lawyer, was quick to respond, “This is a case that should not go to trial. The facts are terrible.”

And it’s a strong case, Friedholm argued, with eyewitness testimony from a doctor who first tried to stop the beating in the car, then ran 75 feet after the car yelling for Rodriguez to stop. A second eyewitness, an off-duty Treasury agent, pulled out of the way of the speeding car, then got out, pulled out his badge and stood in the middle of Federal Street ordering Rodriguez to stop. Rodriguez drove around him and disappeared.

But Schmidt, the defense lawyer, argued that Rodriguez should get some benefit for asking to take part in a process to resolve the case short of trial.

The judge agreed that there ought to be an incentive for defendants who accept responsibility early in a case, pointing out that if every defendant insisted on a trial, “we’d have more courthouses than Starbucks.” Still, the judge said, it wasn’t clear how much of an incentive Rodriguez deserved, particularly after it appeared that Schmidt was quibbling over “what he knew and when he knew it.”

The defense suggests that Rodriguez didn’t know his then-18-year-old former girlfriend was dangling from the side of the car as he sped away when the doctor approached, even as both women screamed at him to stop.

But he certainly had to know by the time he turned from North Street onto Federal Street, where he stopped briefly before speeding off again, Friedholm suggested.

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