COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Federal prosecutors in Maryland are seeking a 35-year prison sentence for a gang member who pleaded guilty to participating in the killing of a 16-year-old boy who was stabbed and cut more than 100 times before his body was set on fire.
A judge is scheduled to sentence Kevin Alexis Rodriguez-Flores on July 19. He pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and conspiracy to destroy and conceal evidence.
Rodriguez admitted that he was a member of Mara Salvatrucha street gang, or MS-13 for short, and took part in the March 2019 killing over the mistaken belief that the boy, a fellow member, was working with police, prosecutors said in a court filing on Friday. The boy was beaten and stabbed or cut roughly 144 times by Rodriguez and others whom he believed to be his friends, they wrote.
The killing took place during an MS-13 clique meeting in the Hyattsville, Maryland, home of the clique’s leader. After the boy’s killing, clique members took his body to a secluded location in Stafford County, Virginia, and set it on fire, according to prosecutors.
Rodriguez was 20 when a grand jury indicted him and three other men in July 2020 on charges stemming from the boy’s killing. He was the first and only defendant to plead guilty as of Monday.
U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has set a Sept. 17 deadline for the U.S. Justice Department to notify the court whether it intends to seek the death penalty against co-defendant Jose Domingo Ordonez-Zometa. The indictment describes Ordonez as the MS-13 clique leader and claims he ordered the boy’s killing after questioning him about a recent encounter with police.
Rodriguez came to the United States from El Salvador in 2016, living with his mother in New Jersey before he moved to Virginia approximately a month before the killing.
The plea agreement between prosecutors and Rodriguez calls for a sentence ranging from 30 years to life imprisonment, but Xinis isn’t bound by that recommendation.
By Michael Kunzelman