March 27, 2018
Rosendo Rodriguez III was executed by the state of Texas on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. He was pronounced dead at 6:46 pm CDT, inside the Walls Unit execution chamber at the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Rosendo was 38 years of age. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of 29-year-old Summer Baldwin and her unborn child in 2005. Rosendo spent the last 9 years of his life on Texas’ death row.
Rosendo grew up being abused by his domineering and alcoholic father. Rosendo attended Texas Tech. He was serving as a US Marine Corp reservist, and was in Lubbock, Texas for training at the time of the murder. Prior to his arrest, Rosendo worked as an office clerk and in food service. He had no prior prison record, however, following his initial arrest, he was also discovered to have murdered 16-year-old Joanna Rogers in 2004.
Summer Baldwin’s body was found stuffed inside of a suitcase in a Lubbock, Texas, city landfill on September 13, 2005. Summer was a prostitute and a witness in federal counterfeiting case, making her death of interest to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Finical records obtained by the federal government showed that Rosendo Rodriguez’s debit card was used to buy an identical suitcase in WalMart the day before Summer’s body was discovered. Video surveillance also showed Rodriguez with Summer. Financial records also showed that Rodriguez rented a hotel room. Hotel records showed that he signed in under the name “Thomas” Rodriguez. Police arrested Rodriguez at his parent’s home in San Antonio, Texas.
Three weeks after his arrest, Rodriguez confessed to the murder of Summer. According to his confession, the two engaged in consensual intercourse. Rodriguez claimed that he killed Summer in self-defense when she came after him with a knife. As police continued their investigation, they discovered that Rodriguez was also linked to the disappearance of teenager Joanna Rogers, who had been missing for over one year. Like Summer, Joanna’s body was also found stuffed in a suitcase in a landfill in Lubbock, Texas.
In exchange for confessing to Joanna’s body, Rodriguez’s attorney negotiated a deal which would spare him from the death penalty, reduce the murder charge, grant him immunity for Joanna’s murder, and sentence him to life in prison. On the day the plea bargain was to occur, Rodriguez’s attorney said that for the past 24 hours, Rodriguez had maintained that he did not understand anything he was being told and then told the trial judge that he did not understand the questions being asked of him. The plea bargain did not go forward and Rodriguez’s attorney withdrew from the case.
Rodriguez was assigned new counsel and the trial began in 2008. Rodriguez argued that his combat training kicked in, causing him to murder Summer when she attacked him with a knife. He further alleged that he had no knowledge that she was pregnant. The prosecution alleged that he sexually assaulted Summer before killing her by strangulation and disposing of the body. Rodriguez was convicted and sentenced to death in April 2008.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Summer Baldwin and Joanna Rogers. Please pray for strength for the family of Rosendo Rodriguez.