Reynaldo Rodriguez, 32, was arrested in Fort Lauderale, Florida for allegedly killing Jonathan Corso, also known as YNOT. For those that may recall, YNOT was killed outside Club Eden Cabaret on July 28th of this year. As you may remember, YNOT was celebrating his 21st birthday when a fight allegedly ensued in the parking lot of the club between his friends and some other people. While details of the altercation were murky for many months, Reynaldo Rodriguez is now accused of running YNOT over with a friend’s Cadillac Escalade, thereby causing YNOT’s death. (Photo Credit: Sun-Sentinel and the Broward Sheriff’s Office)
It should be emphasized that at this point in time, Rodriguez is merely accused of this crime and is innocent until proven guilty. Even though he has been arrested, the judicial process is only just beginning.
For his actions, Reynaldo Rodriguez is presently charged with one count of Vehicular Homicide. Rodriguez surrendered himself to the Broward County Jail this week and has since been released on a $2,500 bond. To learn more about bond, click here.
According to eye witnesses, Reynaldo Rodriguez and his friends got into an altercation with YNOT and his friends, which included one of Rodriguez’s friends spitting on YNOT. At some point thereafter, Reynaldo Rodriguez allegedly got behind the wheel of his friend’s Cadillac Escalade and reversed the vehicle into a crowd of people. YNOT was knocked down and run over by the vehicle’s rear tires. Rodriguez is then said to have put the car in drive and run over YNOT a second time.
According to police, Reynaldo Rodriguez admitted to running over YNOT when he told investigators that people had “tried to rob me so I ran him over.” Clearly, this was not a moment of brilliance for Rodriguez. Based on the eye witness testimony, it seems clear that this was an altercation between a bunch of club patrons and not a robbery.
However, now that Rodriguez has admitted to being the person who ran over YNOT, he has helped prosecutors prove a very fundamental part of their case against him: his identity as the person responsible for killing YNOT. Proving identification is a fundamental requirement for every prosecutor in every case they pursue.
While I am happy that an arrest has been made, this case puzzles me for many reasons. First, why has it taken almost six months to make an arrest? The only thing I can think of is that it may have taken time to extrapolate data from the Escalade’s computer system.
It is important to keep in mind that this Escalade is part of a crime scene. In fact, it is probably the second most important source of evidence after eye witness testimony. For that reason, a forensic analysis of its computer system must be handled with care and performed by experts in electronic evidence and in particular, forensic computer data from automobile computer systems.
According to news reports, police also obtained search warrant. Since the Escalade plays such an important evidentiary role in this case, I am sure police obtained the warrant so that they could search the computer system for data that would help them with their case. By obtaining a warrant in advance of any search and seizure, police are able to avoid losing evidence in a motion to suppress filed by a criminal lawyer.
Regardless, the point is that it seems like this case took a really long time to solve.
Second, as Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer, I wonder why the Broward State Attorney’s Office failed to charge Reynaldo Rodriguez with first degree murder? Vehicular homicide is only a second degree felony!
Here is a list of other second degree felonies, to give you an idea of what we are talking about: Dealing in Stolen Property, Possession with Intent, and Aggravated Battery.
If the evidence proves that Rodriguez intentionally ran over YNOT with the Escalade, and YNOT died as a result, I fail to see how that isn’t first degree murder. Why is that any different than if Rodriguez fired a gun into the crowd and fatally shot YNOT to death as a result?
In a county where the prosecutor’s office is notorious for over-charging criminal defendants with crimes more serious than the ones committed (or which can be proven by the evidence), I have to say I find their decision in this case to be a bit shocking.
Despite my feelings, I can only conclude that there is some evidentiary problem with the case. There is no doubt in my mind that prosecutors would charge Reynaldo Rodriguez with the most serious offense possible. The fact that they have chosen a second degree felony punishable by only 15 years in prison is very telling about the strength of some evidence in the case.
As a Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer, I can tell you that the evidence in this case must be scrutenized with great attention to detail. Prosecutors and police detectives have already conducted their own investigation and their conclusions are clear. Now it is up to Rodriguez’s defense team to draw their own.
Hopefully justice will prevail in this case. I feel bad for YNOT because he was clearly a talented person with a lot of passion for his art and he died an unnaturally young death. Hopefully his family and loved ones will at least feel some vindication knowing someone has been arrested in regards to his death.