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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Keishla Rodríguez’s sister: Verdejo expressed no emotion when hearing guilty verdict

Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz

By John McPhaul

Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz’s sister, Bereliz, said Sunday that Félix Verdejo Sánchez showed no expression when he heard the guilty verdict for the kidnapping that culminated in her sister’s death, as well as the death of her sister’s unborn baby, according to local press reports.

“If with the macabre photos they showed of her he did not have [any expression], what will he have now,” Bereliz Rodríguez said in a video she posted on her social networks.

The woman also shared photos in which Verdejo is seen in a kitchen and sends a message to the former boxer.

“On November 3 [sentencing day] I need you to tell me what you got out of all this,” she said. “What did you expect? What good was it? I have so much to tell you.”

The young woman revealed that she has kept a shirt that Keishla wore to support Verdejo before his fights.

“Before he got in the ring he would call her and she had this shirt on,” Bereliz posted, showing the piece of clothing.

She said she decided to save it to burn it or throw it over the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge when the trial was over. However, once the process was completed, she made another decision.

“It’s not worth it,” she said. “Like what … Throwing it into the garbage is enough.”

On Friday night, a jury of nine men and three women found the former boxer, who fought under the ring moniker “El Diamante,” guilty of causing the death of Rodríguez Ortiz and the death of her unborn child on April 29, 2021.

The jury found that Verdejo, along with co-defendant Luis Antonio Cádiz Martínez, helped each other commit a kidnapping that resulted in the deaths of Rodríguez Ortiz and her unborn child. There was no agreement among the jury on the charges of carjacking that culminated in the 27-year-old woman’s death and the use of a firearm to commit the crime.

“We stand in full solidarity with the family of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz and all those in the community who sought justice for this senseless, cruel and heinous act of premeditated and cold-blooded violence against Keishla and her unborn child,” U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow said after the verdict. “I also commend the hard work, dedication, and tireless pursuit of justice by federal and local law enforcement, including the FBI, Puerto Rico Police, Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety, Puerto Rico Institute of Forensic Sciences, and Puerto Rico Department of Justice, as well as the prosecutors and professional staff of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

Joseph González, the FBI special agent in charge of the San Juan Field Office, added that “[t]here is damage that can never be repaired, even with a fair verdict.”

“In cases like these, all we can do is give it our all in the pursuit of justice,” he said. “Today I can say that my team did exactly that, and I am proud of their dedication. I would like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office for the incredible work and the jury for their service. We did what we do and justice was served.”

According to court documents in the case, on the morning of April 29, 2021, Verdejo executed a premeditated plan to murder Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz and her unborn child by picking up Rodríguez Ortiz in her Dodge Durango, where, with the help of Cádiz Martínez, he beat her, injected her with drugs and then tied her with metal wire to a cinder block. Then, the former boxer drove the victim to Teodoro Moscoso Bridge and, with the help of Cádiz Martínez, threw Rodríguez Ortiz into the San José Lagoon. When her body did not sink, Verdejo threw himself into the lagoon to kill both Rodríguez Ortiz and her unborn child, the court documents said.

That same day, the victim’s mother reported her missing after the woman did not arrive at work in a pet grooming shop, so a Pink Alert was activated for the first time.

Verdejo faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for each conviction. The reading of the sentence was scheduled for November 3 at 2 p.m.

The trial process involved a review of 40 testimonies, photographs, videos, text messages and expert documents as part of the evidence against Verdejo.

The former boxer was represented by attorneys Jason González Delgado and Gabriela José Cintrón Colón.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Gottfried, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Violent Crime and Homeland Security Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanette Collazo took the case to trial.

Relatives of the victim arrived at the courthouse on Friday dressed in white.

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