Michael Anthony Rodriguez, who was currently serving a life term for hiring a hit man to kill his wife, Theresa, 29 in order to collect her $250,000 life insurance, was one of 7 inmates who escaped from John B. Connally Unit, maximum–security prison on December 13, 2000.
Following this malicious escape, the group fatally shot a Dallas police officer while robbing a sporting good store on Christmas Eve. As a result of a nationwide search, the entourage was caught and captured less than a month later in Colorado.
A jury sentenced Rodriguez along with his 5 other cohorts to death for the officer’s slaying. The 7th fugitive killed himself before he could be recaptured.
More than a year and a half ago Rodriguez began writing several letters to the U.S. District Clerk’s Office, personally requesting the judge to waive all appeals and promptly set his execution date.
“I am a college graduate and have no delusions that will occur as an end result of these proceedings,” Rodriguez wrote in his first letter to the courthouse.
During a competency hearing Rodriguez told a psychologist that he “had to except his death sentence and submit to it as a payment in order to be forgiven and obtain salvation.”
At this time, State District Judge Rick Magnis has told prosecutors he will not set an execution date for Michael Rodriguez until after the high court makes a final ruling on the Kentucky case, Baze v. Rees, which is challenging the constitutionality of the lethal injection process. Currently, a nationwide halt to all executions is in effect until this dispute is finalized.
“We probably won’t be able to set the date for the first time until probably late next year at the earliest, even though he has volunteered and is otherwise good to go,” said Dallas prosecutor Lisa Smith.
Rodriguez’s attorney, Danny Burns has relentlessly pleaded with his client to continue appeals and to not throw his life away. Unfortunately, his pleads have been unsuccessful.
Ultimately, Rodriguez may succeed in receiving an execution date, but most likely his extended family along with death penalty opponents will attempt to intervene in order to prevent the execution.
Nationwide statistics reveal there have been a reported 128 inmates who have sought to abandon their right to habeas corpus by waiving the appeals process and have consequently “volunteered” for execution prior to Michael Rodriguez. This volunteer approach is not uncommon, as some believe inmates volunteer merely to put an end to waiting on death row; others believe these inmates are simply incompetent. Regardless of whether or not the inmate chooses to volunteer for execution or appeal their conviction, the U.S. law will always take precedence.
For more information on the lethal injection challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court, visit www.lethalinjection.org.