By: Sean Crose
The boxing world was shocked last spring when lightweight Felix Verdejo was charged with the absolutely brutal murder of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz and her unborn child in Puerto Rico. Rodriguez’ family had told authorities that she had planned to meet Verdejo to tell him she was pregnant with their child. Ortiz’ body was found in a lagoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital. At first Verdejo reportedly had been unwilling to aid authorities with their investigation. Finally, Verdejo turned himself into the FBI. He was charged with a kidnapping that led to a death – and a Carjacking that led to the murder of an unborn child. Verdejo was eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
Now, it appears, Verdejo won’t face capital punishment if convicted. According to the Federal Department of Justice on Monday, the death penalty is now off the table. “The United States of America notifies the court that the death penalty will not be sought in this case against Félix Verdejo Sánchez and Luis Antonio Cádiz Martínez,” read a document sent to attorneys. According to Telemundo: “The Federal Court system also identifies the capital case as ‘CLOSED.'” Prosecutors had been waiting since the fall of 2021 to see whether the Department of Justice would decide if the death penalty should be on the table.
Last spring, the prosecution alleged that Verdejo and Cadiz-Martinez led Ortiz into a vehicle on April 30th. Verdejo then punched her and injected the pregnant woman with a drug. Having bound Ortiz with wire and having tied her to at least one brick, both men drove out to a bridge, where Verdejo subsequently threw Ortiz into the water. The former Olympian then reportedly fired a gun at Ortiz, though the cause of death for Ortiz was drowning.
Upon the indictment Verdejo and Martinez, US Attorney W. Stephen Muldrew was quoted saying that “Keishla Rodríguez-Ortiz was taken from a family that loved her, and she and her child were denied the most fundamental right of life, and the joy of knowing what that life could have been…We hope that this process brings some measure of solace to Keishla’s family.”
Verdejo subsequently pleaded “not guilty.”
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