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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ex-boxer’s murder trial begins with jury selection

Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz

By The Star Staff

After federal Judge Pedro Delgado rejected a request to reconsider a petition to move the murder trial against former boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez to another jurisdiction, the trial against Verdejo for the slaying more than two years ago of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz, who was pregnant with his child, began Monday in U.S. District Court with jury selection.

According to Telenoticias, the former boxer’s defense argued that because of the excessive publicity around the case, Verdejo will not be able to get an impartial jury.

The federal judge denied the petition and began the jury selection process.

Rodríguez Ortiz was murdered in April 2021, and the search for her body paralyzed the island after her family reported her disappearance and linked the former boxer to her death. After several days of searching, the authorities found her body in the San José lagoon.

Soon after, in early May 2021, Verdejo, a San Juan-born professional boxer who held the WBO Latino lightweight title from 2015 to 2017, turned himself in to face charges for the murder of his pregnant mistress.

Verdejo’s alleged accomplice pleaded guilty to the charges last November.

Luis Antonio Cadiz-Martínez pled guilty on two charges related to the murder of Rodríguez Ortiz and her unborn child. Cadiz-Martínez confessed to his role in the carjacking resulting in death and the killing of an unborn child in the abduction and murder of Verdejo’s former lover.

Per the terms of a months-long negotiation in exchange for a guilty plea, the federal prosecutor’s office is expected to recommend that Cadiz-Martínez serve between 30 years to life.

Rodríguez Ortiz’s sister and father arrived at the courtroom, as well as her mother, Keila Ortiz, who is one of the 30 witnesses in the case, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Verdejo’s mother, Madeline Sánchez, was also at the hearing.

“We are prepared. We have been preparing for a long time,” Verdejo’s lawyer said. “We will choose the jury. We look forward to finishing the selection process. We are confident that the jury we choose will issue its determination based on the evidence that will be seen at trial.”

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