Man charged with armed home invasion, kidnapping just months after being exonerated of murder

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CHICAGO, IL – He got off on murder.  The feds weren’t allowed to deport him.  Then, months later, he and others pretended to be cops, kidnapped someone at gunpoint and held her at ransom, police say.

The story of Ricardo Rodriguez has a lot to unpack. We need to start at the beginning. 

In 1978, he migrated to the United States, illegally.

Eight years later, his status was changed to lawful permanent resident. In 1997, 11 years later, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to a 60-year term. 

Yet, here is was in September of 2020, 23 years into a 60-year sentence, standing in front of a judge on charges stemming from an incident occurring in August of 2019 in the Belmont Cragin area of Chicago.

As the Assistant State Attorney, James Murphy, detailed the allegations of home invasion and kidnapping against Rodriguez, he reminded the judge that he was a convicted murderer. 

Man charged with armed home invasion, kidnapping just months after being exonerated of murder
Photo courtesy of the Chicago Police Department

Rodriguez spoke up, telling Judge Beach:

“It was vacated. I was wrongly convicted. It was vacated.”

Murphy told the court that he was unaware of the exoneration, suggesting that he was out of prison because murderers often do not serve their entire sentence. 

Research conducted by CWB Chicago shows that his conviction was indeed vacated. His case was tied to a detective that was associated with at least 20 wrongful conviction cases in Cook County

According to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office: 

“We concluded that the totality of the evidence was insufficient to support the murder conviction. On March 27, 2018, we asked the court to vacate the conviction, and the motion was granted by order of the court, and the case was dismissed.”

The Agree Order, signed in March of 2018, states that Rodriguez was able to provide evidence from a surviving victim and other eyewitnesses that say he was not the shooter.

As such, the Kim Foxx led State’s Attorney’s Office concluded that there was insufficient evidence, and requested to exoneration. 

He walked out of prison and was immediately apprehended by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents. They began the proceedings to have him deported back to Mexico, stating that his murder conviction led to the revoking of his permanent resident status. 

However, in March of 2019, a federal immigration judge dismissed the case against Rodriguez, pointing to the vacation of the murder charges. The exoneration left his status intact.  

He was free to go. 

Fast-forward 5 months. Teresa Rodriguez, one of the suspects in the home invasion and kidnapping case, was picked up on a warrant in San Diego. Upon her return to Chicago, she laid out the details of what happened. 

Around 2:30 in the morning of August 3rd, a man and his wife heard a knock on the door. He peeked outside to see several men and a woman standing on his porch. Each of them wearing a bulletproof vest with the word POLICE across them. One of the men wore a badge on a chain around his neck, according to the victim. 

“Police,” one of them shouted, and then used the man’s full name. 

Worried that something had happened to a family member, he opened the door. The entire group of “officers” entered the home. One of them held a gun to the man’s chest. The led him into the dining room and tied him to a chair.

His wife got out of bed to see what was going on and was quickly restrained. Several of the intruders began searching the home. They demanded $1 million or a large amount of cocaine from another person they thought was in the home. 

That person was not there, so they took the woman and left. They put her into a SUV and drove away. Prosecutors claimed that the SUV was registered to Rodriguez. 

Shortly after the kidnapping, that third person began receiving phone calls demanding $1 million in ransom for the safe return of the female. While the calls came from various numbers, he recognized one of the numbers as being that of Teresa. He also claims to have recognized her voice. 

He remembered that she had a brother who had recently gotten out of prison. Using Google, he found pictures and showed them to the victim. He said at that time he looked like one of the invaders, later confirming that it was indeed Ricardo Rodriguez. 

The next day, police entered a home that was known to be associated with the Rodriguez family. They found multiple vests with POLICE on them. They also found a badge hanging from a chain and multiple firearms that only shot blanks, according to the prosecution. 

The kidnapped woman was later dumped on a street corner. 

Police returned the next day after learning that people were moving out of that home. 

According to CWB: 

“Cops arrested 38-year-old Juan Rodriguez at the scene. Prosecutors charged him with multiple counts of home invasion, aggravated kidnapping for ransom, and unlawful restraint. He’s being held without bail.

About 10 days later, police arrested Christina Rodriguez, 41, after the abducted woman identified her as someone who was at one of the hideout locations. Prosecutors charged her with aggravated kidnapping for ransom. Her bond status was not immediately available.

Teresa Rodriguez, who was extradited from San Diego earlier this month, faces an identical charge. She’s being held without bail.”

And that leads us back to Ricardo. 

He was arrested this past Thursday when he came back to Chicago from Mexico. 

On Friday, when Judge Beach asked for the state to present its case, Rodriguez spoke up. 

“Um, if I could get an I-bond, I don’t have any felonies in my background,” he said.

The judge told Rodriguez that it was not his turn to speak. 

Murphy then laid out the charges and mentioned his murder conviction as we detailed above. 

The judge stated that he would not consider the murder conviction and subsequent exoneration when setting the bail, which was $700,000. The left Rodriguez needing $70,000 to bond out. 

Even though two of his alleged accomplices, at least one of which is his sister, are being held without bond, Rodriguez complained to the judge. 

“Oh my God, Judge! That’s too high! I just got out on a wrongful conviction, your Honor.”

Too high? For allegedly impersonating police, home invasion, kidnapping for ransom and several other charges? 

But one question that Rodriguez undoubtedly is asking. 

How is it possible that the State’s Attorney’s Office would assist in the exoneration of a man on murder charges and then not clear that conviction from their own system? 

Perhaps it just points to more ineptitude from the group led by Kim Foxx, whose name is no stranger to the pages of Law Enforcement Today. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has blamed the violence in Chicago on the President of the United States is now blaming the rioting and looting on Foxx, who herself blamed President trump for the Jussie Smollett hoax. 

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CHICAGO, IL– During the weekend of August 7th, widespread looting and civil unrest overpowered Chicago with 13 officers injured and over 100 people arrested. Now, Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants answers, and it sounds like she’s blaming Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown suggested that because so few defendants were faced with serious charges during the heavy looting that took place in late May and early June, many of them were back on the streets almost immediately, encouraging more of the same unruly behavior.

Brown said in a statement:

“Criminals took to the streets with confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions and I, for one, refuse to allow these cowardly acts to hold our city hostage. CPD will not stand by as our beautiful downtown becomes some place that people fear.”

https://twitter.com/Breaking911/status/1292854486726332417

Foxx, the state’s attorney took immediate offense to Lightfoot and Brown’s claims. She alleged that the small number of looters who faced charges after the destruction in late May and early June, is a “police problem” and that those her office chose to “release” without any charges, have not encouraged more looting. 

She said in a statement:

“The notion that people believe they are somehow empowered because people weren’t prosecuted for looting back in the wake of the unrest beginning is simply not true. Those cases are coming to court now.”

She added:

“And what we have said to CPD and our other partner is bring us cases where people are committing those acts and we will pursue them.”

Yet, according to reports almost 300 defendants were charged with a felony back in early June, and most were “quickly” granted pre-trial release putting them back on the streets to cause more harm, destroy more property, and incite more violence. 

Patrick O’Brien, the Republican candidate challenging Foxx this coming November, also weighed in on the situation.

He said:

“How surprising is it when you encourage crime and don’t have any consequences for it that it continues to happen?”

Mayor Lightfoot slammed looters and rioters who destroyed downtown Chicago over the weekend, calling the events an “assault on our city” and telling the criminals, “we are coming for you.”

Disappointed and angered she said:

“We are waking up in shock this morning. These individuals engaged in what can only described as brazen and extensive criminal looting and destruction and to be clear, this had nothing to do with legitimate, protected First Amendment expression.”

She added:

“We are not going to let our city be taken over by criminals and vigilantes.”

As CPD became aware of the looting and vandalizing they also came across several social media posts encouraging the looting downtown. According to Brown, the department dispatched roughly 400 officers to respond to the chaotic scene. 

Mayor Lightfoot is calling upon court officials and the state’s attorney to make sure people who are, or who will be arrested, are held accountable this time.

She said:

“To those who engaged in this criminal behavior, let’s be clear: we are coming for you. We are already at work in finding you and we intend to hold you accountable for your actions. There is no justification for criminal behavior, ever.”

She added:

“You have no right, no right to take and destroy the property of others. This is not anywhere near acceptable.”

Brown said that the department is creating a “special team” of investigator tasked with scouring the hours of camera footage obtained overnight, and has asked members of the public who took videos to share those with police. 

A spokeswoman for Foxx said that assistant state attorneys are working with Chicago police to review the video from August 10th’s looting to identify and arrest those involved.

Mayor Lightfoot, as well as Superintendent Brown, believe that the looting and civil unrest that took place on Magnificent Mile was triggered by misinformation from an officer-involved non-fatal shooting that took place in Englewood on August 9th.

After the officer-involved shooting incident, many residents across the city were outraged because it was believed that a Chicago police officer had shot an unarmed, black teenage boy. This was not the case at all, but by the time the correct information found its way, the incorrect information had spread like wildfire.

CBS2 investigators found several examples of people erroneously tweeting out that the victim was a 15-year-old boy and that he had been shot as many as 15 times. Then, these tweets were shared and retweeted by thousands of followers online. 

The more this incorrect information was shared, the worse the looting, vandalizing, and destruction of property on Magnificent Mile got. Stores were trashed, items were stolen, anti-police graffiti was found in different spots, and caravans and u-hauls were seen pulling up to stores as looters filled them with merchandise.

The reality of the situation was that the suspect was fleeing on foot and while police pursued him, he turned around, unprovoked and shot at the officers. The suspect was 20-years-old, and he was armed. In addition, he has a history of committing crimes and being arrested.

Here is another article from Law Enforcement Today about the violence and crime spike in Chicago and how Mayor Lightfoot finally accepts help from the federal governemnt:

 

CHICAGO, IL – The media was recently abuzz with news that Chicago’s democrat mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has accepted President Donald Trump’s assistance in reducing the recent violence in the nation’s third largest city.

This must be difficult for the first term mayor to swallow considering she ran her whole platform on reducing violence in the city, starting with relabeling gun violence as a health crisis.

She would be focusing on police reform and has recently compared federal law enforcement officers to terrorists.

She had stated:

“Police departments since the start of the history of this country, have been used to enforce unconstitutional laws that were designed to discriminate against communities of color and particularly African Americans…people don’t have trust in our police department [and] they don’t view the police department as legitimate.”

She said she will now “demand” assistance from the federal government to help stop the flow of guns coming in from other states.

During her campaign, she had said:

“That’s something that the federal government is uniquely qualified to do and they’ve abdicated their responsibility.”

When Lightfoot took office, she filled her administration with experts that claim they are renowned for police reform and community-based violence prevention programs, which earned approval from anti-violence activists. 

https://twitter.com/Breaking911/status/1286054696097062914

Mayor Lightfoot was incredibly vocal regarding her disapproval for her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, who was mayor from 2011 – 2019. She claimed he didn’t do enough to protect the citizens of Chicago. He had weak policies and unsuccessful community-based social programs.

Mayor Lightfoot didn’t think Emanuel knew what the community needed.

Apparently, they share that in common, because the people of Chicago have been asking for federal assistance in their city for years.

Residents begged former President Barack Obama to send federal law enforcement to help fight the brutal violence at ground level for his entire presidency, which went ignored. As is often the war cry for Democrats, Obama felt that all Chicago needed to make Chicago safer were stricter gun control laws. 

We see how well that has worked out thus far.

On May 23,  Mayor Lightfoot accepted President Trump’s offer to bring in Federal Law Enforcement Officials to help fight the recent increase in violent crimes that spiked at the onset of the Black Lives Matter “protests.”

These protests have forced police to decrease their patrols and scale back proactive policing at the insistence of politicians.

However, if Mayor Lightfoot views federal law enforcement officers as terrorists, then why the sudden change of heart towards President Trump’s offer of support?

Is it because since the Black Lives Matter protests began in May, Chicago has seen a 50% increase in homicides and over 400 people have lost their lives? Or is it because others have decided to take matters into their own hands and be the leader Chicago truly needs? 

President Trump’s call to Lightfoot was not just happenstance.

On July 18th, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara asked Trump for help control the surge in violent crime. Catanzara’s letter states that Mayor Lightfoot has been a “complete failure” at controlling the cities violent crime epidemic and he would like to meet with the President to “discuss how to bring back civility” to the streets of Chicago.”

Although Catanzara never formally asked for assistance, it’s clear that there needed to be an intervention of sorts in the Windy City. 

The communication between President Trump and Catanzara, who is the spokesman for the Chicago Police Department Union, embarrassed Lightfoot and she lashed out like a petulant child.

Lightfoot said:

“In the middle of everything that is going on, in a craven political move, this man [Catanzara] waved his hand to President Trump and invited him to bring federal troops into our city, a la Portland.

“We have tried to engage him in a constructive way. He refuses to do so because he’s more interested in trying to make himself a political figure.”

She must not understand that when you vilify your law enforcement and are looking to support reform and defunding of the department, that doesn’t scream “constructive engagement.” 

After Mayor Lightfoot’s less than truthful comments on constructive engagement, she stooped to petty namecalling and bullying that is not becoming of a person with her title and position.

She lashed out at Catanzara via text message calling him a cartoon character, a clown, irrelevant, desparate, and a total fraud.

She stands by her characterization of the FOP President.

She claims requesting Trump’s support was cowardly:

“How is that responsible? How does that make sense? What he should be doing is focusing on things that [are] actually important to his members.”

He is, Madam Mayor. Maybe you should also focus on the things that are important to your community members. You know, like not being murdered. 

Meanwhile, activists are doing everything they can to “protect” rioters from federal officers.

This past Thursday, several activist groups including Black Lives Matter have filed paperwork in federal court.

Their hope is to prevent federal law enforcement from interfering with protests that have been ongoing in Chicago and across the country since the death of George Floyd back in May. Then in July, Trump signed an executive order that would prevent the destruction of federal property and monuments across the country.

This month, the president dispatched federal officers to Portland, Oregon to stop protesters who were damaging federal buildings.

According to ABC 7 Chicago:

“A collection of Chicago activist groups want a judge to block federal agents sent to the city to combat violent crime by President Donald Trump from interfering in or policing protests, arguing in a lawsuit filed Thursday that that the surge will inhibit residents’ ability to hold demonstrations.

“The suit names Attorney General William Barr along with the heads of other federal agencies whose agents are part of the surge plan announced at the White House on Wednesday.” 

The “surge” plan mentioned is Trumps new initiative to combat violence in cities across the US.

On Wednesday President Donald Trump held a press conference to announce a new anti-crime initiative or surge plan to combat violence in several major cities including Chicago. The Presidents announcement comes a day after 15 people were shot in front of a funeral home.

As ABC 7 Chicago reported:

“Trump blamed deadly policies and deadly politicians as responsible for out-of-control crime in numerous U.S. cities.”

The president also reported a staggering statistic for The Windy City:

‘”At least 414 people have been murdered in the city this year. A roughly 50% increase over last year'”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reportedly spoke to President Trump about his intentions to send the feds to her city.

A statement released by Lightfoot’s Office said:

“‘The President reached out to Mayor Lightfoot this evening to confirm that he plans to send federal resources to Chicago to supplement ongoing federal investigations pertaining to violent crime. The conversation was brief and straightforward.

“Mayor Lightfoot maintains that all resources will be investigatory in nature and be coordinated through the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Mayor has made clear that if there is any deviation from what has been announced, we will pursue all available legal options to protect Chicagoans.'” 

These groups filing a suit against Trump and his staff are looking for assurances that this supplement of federal manpower isn’t going to interfere with protests. People that have been peacefully protesting have not been subject to arrest, or really any kind of interference, from law enforcement.

Violent agitators, looters and people destroying property, however, are attracting much attention of law enforcement.

So who are groups like Black Lives Matter really trying to protect?

Last weekend in Chicago, 18 police officers were injured while protecting a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park.

According to CBS News Chicago, the protest began as a “defund the police” protest at Buckingham Fountain and then headed south towards Grant Park. As more people joined the protest and arrived at Grant Park, the crowd turned on the police began hurling objects at the police while trying to overrun them.

CBS News said:

“Police say 14 people were arrested and could face charges including battery of a police officer and mob action.”

WTTW News Chicago released CPD video of the protest and it shows an unruly mob storming into the park and then hurling objects at officers as they do their best to hold their positions while being easily outnumbered.

The events of last weekend in Grant Park are carbon copies of protests around the country. They are not peaceful and they are only growing more violent as the weeks go on. The line between protester and domestic terrorist have been blurred for weeks now.

So rather than ask their members to keep their protesters peaceful, all of these organizations have doubled down and filed a suit to keep the destruction going all under the guise of the First Amendment.

This is being done while continuing to vilify the police and anyone else who attempts to get in their way.

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