The Main Stream

Jun 28, 2012 2:16 AM

Crime Trackers: fugitive accused of stalking arrested

TUCSON - Considered a violent offender on the run Leo Rodriguez' time on the streets has run out.
News4 "Crime Trackers" profiled Rodriguez several times, including interviewing the victim who was terrified of him.
He was convicted in absentia in 2011 of 65 counts of stalking.

After two years on the run, U S Marshals caught up with him last May in Hermosillo. Their Mexican law enforcement counterparts arrested him and turned him over. He now sits in the Pima County jail waiting to be sentenced.

Rodriguez skipped out from a court hearing in April 2010. He asked the judge if he could be excused to go to the men's room.

During his absence he kept in touch with his attorney Rafael Gallego.

Gallego says he never knew where Rodriguez was. He says Rodriguez fled because of issues involving his former girlfriend's family. He feared for his life if he were in custody. He said Rodriguez "was kidnapped, hurt, beaten, in Mexico. We have evidence of that he just didn't want to subject himself to any of that torture."
Yet, he was in Mexico when he was arrested. Now he wants a new trial based on new evidence that includes a phone call from a man.
"He told him he was going to kill him," said Gallego. "He was going to kill his mother, his special needs sister and even I got a death threat."
During the time Rodriguez was on the run the victim says he continued to harass her. News4 interviewed her last fall, "I fear for my life," she said then. "He has called me like thousands and thousands of times I have to change my number. He has text me thousands thousands of texts." The woman claims she endured years of physical and verbal abuse.

The defense attorney says there are two sides to every story. He claims his client also endured emotion pain.

In a recent court hearing asking for a new trial Gallego brought up those issues to Superior Court Judge Paul Tang. Prosecutor Julie Sottosanti argued, "Here we are eight months after a 68 count verdict on a motion for a new trial I just don't think its timely."
Judge Tang agreed, he denied the motion.
Rodriguez' legal troubles are just beginning. He not only faces up to 35 years in prison on the stalking charges, he still has two criminal charges pending.

There was evidence presented in the 2011 trial that Rodriguez used a Tucson police officer to track his ex girlfriend and her relatives. The officer pleaded guilty to computer tampering and was placed on three years' probation last year.


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