Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dad pleads no contest to 1st-degree murder in death of 2-year-old daughter (Floyd, Virginia)

Dad EDER GUZMAN-RODRIQUEZ beat the mother into unconsciousness before strangling and punching to the 2-year-old daughter to death.


Floyd man pleads no contest in daughter's death, saying he believed demon possessed her

Eder Guzman-Rodriguez said he thought a demon had entered his 2-year-old daughter in November 2011, and that was why he punched and choked her to death.

by Melissa Powell | 381-8621 Monday, June 3, 2013

FLOYD — Eder Guzman-Rodriguez told police that his 2-year-old daughter was possessed by a demon, causing him to punch and choke her until she lay lifeless inside the family’s home.

“I didn’t mean to kill the baby,” Guzman-Rodriguez told police shortly after the incident in November 2011. “I didn’t mean to choke her.”

Floyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt read that quote in circuit court Monday after Guzman-Rodriguez pleaded no contest to first-degree murder.

Guzman-Rodriguez, 30, originally from Mexico, was sentenced to 20 years and 11 months for the murder of his daughter, Jocelyn. He was also originally charged with malicious wounding and felony child neglect, but those charges were dropped Monday morning as part of a plea agreement.

According to Shortt’s summary of the evidence, Guzman-Rodriguez told police that Jocelyn had a demon inside of her and that he had attempted to exorcise her of the demon. Jocelyn’s cause of death was manual asphyxiation, Shortt said.

Shortt said that on Nov. 23, 2011, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office received a call at 9:39 p.m. reporting the death of a child in the 100 block of Lance Drive. The first deputy who arrived saw “several Hispanics holding Bibles” standing on the deck of a mobile home, Shortt said.

Police found Guzman-Rodriguez and his wife, referred to in court as Carmen Nolazco, sitting on a couch in the living room, Shortt said. Nolazco was crying and had visible injuries to her face, head and chest, Shortt said.

Jocelyn was found on a bed in the master bedroom, wrapped in a blanket, according to Shortt. She was blue and had no pulse. The room was in disarray with several Bibles and “other religious literature,” Shortt said.

Guzman-Rodriguez told police that he saw his daughter gesturing to him as if she wanted to fight, Shortt said, and that he punched her “over and over” with his bare hands, Shortt said.

“I know I am the one who hit her,” Shortt said Guzman-Rodriguez told police. “I was the only one there. The demon used my body to kill her.”

Shortt said Nolazco could not have prevented Jocelyn’s death because Guzman-Rodriguez had beaten, kicked and strangled his wife to the point of unconsciousness before he attacked his daughter.

While Shortt was describing Jocelyn’s injuries — which included fractured ribs, abrasions, contusions on a lung and hemorrhages — Nolazco ran out of the courtroom Monday and began loudly sobbing and screaming just outside the courtroom doors.

Shortt requested a recess but came back minutes later and continued her summary of the evidence. Nolazco did not re-enter the courtroom.

Shortt said the plea agreement allows Nolazco to “immediately begin the healing process” and “avoid having to relive in detail the horrible tragedy that altered her life forever.” Guzman-Rodriguez was previously scheduled to have a five-day jury trial in August.

Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Guzman-Rodriguez to life in prison, suspended after he serves 20 years and 11 months. Guzman-Rodriguez will be placed on 25 years of active supervised probation upon his release.

Because he is not a United States citizen, Guzman-Rodriguez will be deported after he serves his sentence, said one of his lawyers, Jonathon Venzie.

Before announcing the sentence, Long asked Guzman-Rodriguez if he wished to make a statement. Through an interpreter, who stood next to him throughout the hearing, Guzman-Rodriguez at first said “no.”

Then he added: “I just want to say to Ms. Stephanie Shortt that I hope God forgives her for all the hurt she caused my wife.”

After the hearing, Venzie said that Shortt had previously gone through the autopsy report with Nolazco, causing her to go “off the deep end.”

Guzman-Rodriguez found that unnecessary, Venzie said.

Nolazco is “on his side. She believes it was the devil,” Venzie said, adding that the two are still married. In Jocelyn’s obituary, published by a Galax funeral home, Nolazco’s full name was listed as Maria dell Carmen Nolazco Garcia.

Venzie said Jocelyn was “cute as a button and loved by everyone.”

“It’s a horrible family tragedy,” Venzie said. “They’re all victims. Poor Carmen was living the dream — she was married, she had a child, a home, and in one second, she lost everything. My heart goes out to Carmen.”