A state appeals court panel Wednesday upheld a South Gate man’s murder conviction for beating and strangling his girlfriend after they drank alcohol with another couple.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Oscar Rodriguez Jr.’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support his first-degree murder conviction for Nancy Molina’s death.

In its 49-page ruling, the appellate court panel noted that Rodriguez strangled and beat the 33-year-old woman and that jurors could have inferred that she struggled with him early on the morning of July 4, 2016.

“His arms and wrists were scratched, and his DNA was on Molina’s fingernails. This struggle only prolonged the attack and gave Rodriguez additional time to deliberate,” according to the ruling.

The panel also noted that the couple had a dispute about Molina wanting to go out with her friends, and that he had a history of domestic violence involving a prior relationship with a woman with whom he shared two children.

Rodriguez was arrested after authorities went to a home in the 5200 block of Brookdale Road in response to a 911 call about an unresponsive woman. Paramedics performed CPR on Molina, who was taken to a hospital where doctors identified multiple traumatic injuries. She was declared brain-dead that day, and remained on life support until July 7, 2016.

Rodriguez is serving a 25-year-to-life state prison term.

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