Home News Local News Kidnapping trial begins for Roswell man

Kidnapping trial begins for Roswell man

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Enrique L. Rodriguez, left, sits next to his brother, New Mexico State Senator Cliff Pirtle and his wife Aysia Tuesday afternoon during a brief recess. According to court proceedings, Rodriguez was an employee of Pirtle Farms in Roswell. According to online court records, Pirtle paid a bail bond of $15,000 for Rodriguez July 22, 2016. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

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The two-day trial for a man in the U.S. illegally and accused of kidnapping a woman and committing aggravated burglary within a Roswell home more than two years ago began Tuesday morning in Chaves County District Court.

Defense attorney Doug Jones Witt comes forward to alleged victim Esperanza Riofrio-Anaya with a piece of evidence during cross-examination Tuesday afternoon. Riofrio-Anaya stated that after Rodriguez broke into her home, she was dragged more than 500 feet east on West Hendricks Street to his home, losing her shoes, hairclip, and pants in the process. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

The state of New Mexico alleges on Nov. 28, 2015, 41-year-old Enrique Rodriguez broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in the 1500 block of West Hendricks Street and dragged her by the hair more than 500 feet to his own home in the 1400 block of West Hendricks Street before beating and aiming a rifle at her.

According to a criminal complaint, Rodriguez fell to the ground while the ex-girlfriend held onto his feet. Afterward, the alleged victim grabbed the rifle, ran to her home and called 911.

The jury selection began around 9 a.m. Tuesday, in which prosecutors from the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and Rodriguez’s defense attorney, Doug Jones Witt, posed questions to potential jurors.

While most members of the developing jury shared the idea that their personal “scale of justice” was in balance, some did show opposition when informed that both Rodriguez and the victim could potentially be living within the United States illegally.

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Deputy district attorneys Jonathan Michael Thomas and Matthew Stone coordinated with Witt and Chaves County District Judge Dustin K. Hunter for almost three hours to impanel a 12-person jury for Rodriguez.

The court was recessed for lunch before noon. Opening arguments began in the afternoon.

The state of New Mexico gave its opening statement, using much of the observations made by the Roswell Police Department’s Richard Romero, which focused heavily on statements made by Rodriguez’s ex-girlfriend.

Witt stated to the jury, “You have to understand their story,” making note of the decade-long relationship Rodriguez and the woman had with each other.

The Roswell defense attorney also eluded to the idea that Rodriguez had financially been the primary provider for the woman and their family.

After the couple had separated, Witt said Rodriguez had given the home in the 1500 block of West Hendricks Street to woman and their children.

Before the alleged kidnapping, Rodriguez saw his ex-girlfriend at Tequila’s, a nightclub between Roswell and Dexter that is no longer open. Witt described Rodriguez as “highly intoxicated” and added he couldn’t drive his truck home, but rather had to get dropped off at his residence.

Alcohol had played a role for both his client and his client’s ex-girlfriend, Witt told members of the jury.

In closing of his argument, Witt said Rodriguez had noticed the lights on at his ex-girlfriend’s home and noticed the front door was ajar before he entered “the home he thought he owned.”

The alleged victim of the November 2015 incident was the first and only witness to testify before the jury Tuesday afternoon. Esperanza Riofrio-Anaya clarified with the defense while she was not a U.S. citizen at the time of the incident, she had since been granted citizenship through the means of her father.

Riofrio-Anaya told prosecutors she had dated Rodriguez for over a decade, and that she was the mother of their three children, ages 3, 7 and 12.

The ex-girlfriend said Rodriguez had an affair with another woman from her workplace in December 2014 and she had once filed a restraining order against him.

Before Riofrio-Anaya had filed the restraining order and taken his house key, the ex-girlfriend said Rodriguez had been showing controlling tendencies.

In a separate case, Rodriguez allegedly violated a protective order and was charged with aggravated stalking on Dec. 1, 2014. A docket call for that fourth-degree felony charge is set for Jan. 22.

According to Riofrio-Anaya’s statements, the restraining order had expired Oct. 29, 2015 — less than a month before the alleged kidnapping.

Riofrio-Anaya said when she went to Tequila’s, she was with a group of friends that picked her up and took her home. Rodriguez’s ex-girlfriend said there was no interaction between her and Rodriguez at the nightclub, but that she did see him dancing with other women.

Riofrio-Anaya told the defense she had two to three mixed drinks like a “tequila sunrise” while at the club with her friends. She was not intoxicated at any point, she said.

At the time of the incident, Riofrio-Anaya explained that she was taking off her makeup.

Riofrio-Anaya said after Rodriguez had entered her home, he started cussing at her, then punching her with closed fists and pulling her by her hair.

The ex-girlfriend was unable to answer as to how intoxicated Rodriguez was, but stated that she knows he tends to get violent when he is drunk.

Riofrio-Anaya went into detail of the injuries she had sustained due to Rodriguez. Multiple photos that been administered as evidence were shown to members of the jury.

Many of the images showed cuts and scrapes all across her body, including marks on her neck and face.

Prosecutors from the state of New Mexico also went over a 911 call made by Riofrio-Anaya. The alleged victim confirmed that it was her voice that was recorded.

She also confirmed the rifle that she stated Rodriguez had held against her.

Both the prosecution and defense came to rest with the first witness.

After the Tuesday’s proceedings, Hunter called for a recess until 9 a.m. today.

The prosecution stated upcoming witnesses from the RPD included recruiting and training officer Richard Romero and detective Michael Burkowski. It is unknown if Rodriguez will testify in his own defense.

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.