GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A gang member was sentenced on Tuesday to 30 years in federal prison for his role in the killing of a 16-year-old boy who was stabbed and cut more than 100 times at a Maryland home before his body was set on fire.
U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis also sentenced Kevin Alexis Rodriguez-Flores, 20, of Annandale, Virginia, to five years of supervised release following his prison term. The plea agreement between prosecutors and Rodriguez called for a sentence ranging from 30 years to life imprisonment, but Xinis wasn’t bound by that recommendation.
Rodriguez admitted he was a member of the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 for short, and took part in the March 2019 killing over the mistaken belief that the boy, a fellow member, was working with police, prosecutors said. The boy was beaten and stabbed or cut roughly 144 times by Rodriguez and others whom he believed to be his friends, they wrote in a court filing.
Prosecutors had sought a 35-year prison sentence for Rodriguez, who pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and conspiracy to destroy and conceal evidence.
The killing took place during an MS-13 clique meeting in the Hyattsville, Maryland, home of the clique’s leader. After the boy’s killing, clique members took his body to a secluded location in Stafford County, Virginia, and set it on fire, according to prosecutors.
A grand jury indicted Rodriguez and three other men in July 2020 on charges stemming from the boy’s killing. He is the only defendant to plead guilty as of Tuesday.
Xinis has set a Sept. 17 deadline for the U.S. Justice Department to notify the court whether it intends to seek the death penalty against co-defendant Jose Domingo Ordonez-Zometa. The indictment describes Ordonez as the MS-13 clique leader and claims he ordered the boy’s killing after questioning him about a recent encounter with police.
Rodriguez came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2016. He lived with his mother in New Jersey before moving to Virginia approximately a month before the killing.