Father confronts daughter’s alleged killer in tense courtroom drama, judge forced to intervene

The father of a woman killed by a suspected drunk driver lashed at that man as he called on the judge to deny bail, saying the suspect might flee to Mexico.

Enrique Rodriguez Jr., 24, was arraigned on several charges, including four counts of manslaughter, after plowing into a group of homeless people in Salem, Oregon, KATU reported. According to the state, Rodriguez’s blood-alcohol level was .26. Two other people were injured in the incident.

Eduardo Zamacona, whose daughter Rochelle, 29, was one of the four killed, erupted during Monday’s court hearing, according to the ABC affiliate.

“This piece of f*cking trash. He’s going to go to Mexico or somewhere where we can’t take care of him,” Eduardo said.

One of Rodriguez’s family members sitting in the back of the courtroom called him a racist, as Eduardo went on to exclaim, “I wish I could kill his f*cking family.”

“I’m right here brother,” Rodriguez’s defiant family member called back.

As Zamacona turned and stared the family member down, the judge can be heard intervening, “Stop. Stop. We are not doing this. This is not happening.”

A woman identified as the mother of one of the victims also spoke against bail for Rodriguez.

“In all honesty, we just hope that the court would understand that with the loss of four innocent people and the extent of my daughter’s injuries, as well as others, we do not believe that bail is warranted at this time,” the woman said, according to the Statesman Journal.

Judge Jennifer Gardiner would speak to Eduardo afterward.

“I can tell by looking at you, your face is shaking, you’re obviously very upset,” Gardiner said, according to the newspaper. “I understand that. I am so sorry that you’re here and I am so sorry that this happened to your family. Part of my job is to make sure you’re respected and that everyone in this courtroom’s respected.”

The suspect’s mother, Maria Arreze, told KATU outside the courtroom that her son was not a murderer and blamed the city of Salem for the accident.

“Shouldn’t have been, not been homeless on that road, my kid would hurt himself, only himself. I think the city is accountable as well for this tragedy,” she said.

As noted in the article, the homeless encampment is on Oregon Department of Transportation property and a notice was posted on March 17 for campers to leave, but the state must give them 10 days to leave. Monday was the earliest ODOT could have taken action.


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