Judge sentences Cape man to life for wife’s murder
An 83-year-old Cape Coral man was sentenced to life in prison Monday in the 2007 slaying of his wife.
Joseph Rodriguez, a former volunteer with the Cape Coral Police Department, was found guilty of second-degree murder with a firearm by a Lee County jury in November.
Rodriguez fatally shot his wife, Wanda Rodriguez, in the head and staged her suicide, police and medical experts testified.
Rodriguez’s attorneys maintained Wanda committed suicide throughout the three-day trial, but the jury ultimately found Rodriguez responsible for her death.
Because the jury found Rodriguez had used a firearm in the murder, Lee County Circuit Judge Thomas Reese said he is obligated by Florida’s 10-20-Life sentencing law to give Rodriguez a life sentence without parole, which he could appeal within 30 days of sentencing.
10-20-Life was passed into law by the Florida Legislature in 1999 and states that there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison for an offender who commits or attempts to commit certain felonies in possession of a firearm; 20 years in prison if the firearm is discharged; and 25 years to life in prison if a person is injured or killed, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Rodriguez maintained his innocence during Monday’s sentencing hearing.
“I never touched my wife the wrong way ever,” Rodriguez told Reese before he was sentenced.
Wanda Rodriguez’s only daughter, Debbie Cosman, who had been reunited with her mother in 2001, pleaded through her tears for Reese to impose the maximum penalty against Rodriguez.
“Ever since her death it has been like a dream,” she said. “She was here and now she’s gone.”
Rodriguez reunited Cosman with Wanda because Cosman is named as a beneficiary in her will, she told Reese. Cosman said she had formed a loving relationship with Wanda, and planned a trip with her shortly before her death.
Wanda was an independent woman, and Rodriguez did not like that, she said.
“Please give Mr. Rodriguez life,” she told Reese. “He has shown no remorse for what he has done.”
“Under sentencing law the judge had no choice but to sentence him to life in prison,” said Rodriguez’s defense attorney, Wilbur Smith. “This was anticipated. Mr. Rodriguez is (83) years old, so life is not a very lengthy sentence.”
Smith said it is possible Rodriguez will file to appeal the case, but a decision had not been reached on the matter Monday.