A judge may rule Wednesday on whether a probationer accused in the shooting death of an Indio woman nearly a year ago is mentally competent to stand trial.
Johnny Jose Rodriguez, 26, was arrested last Jan. 15, a day after 32-year-old Angela Struzas was gunned down inside her home at 38555 Rancho Los Coyotes Drive.
Two behavioral health specialists were appointed in October by the court to evaluate the defendant’s mental competency. Criminal proceedings against the defendant were subsequently suspended.
A judge will use their reports to determine whether the defendant is mentally fit to be prosecuted on a murder charge and a sentence-enhancing allegation of discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury, which could result in a sentence of 50 years to life in state prison if he’s convicted.
Indio Police Department Detective Kelly Hawkins testified at a preliminary hearing last September that the crime scene was “probably one of bloodiest scenes I’ve ever seen.”
“She was just drenched in blood, and in a pool of blood,” the detective said of the victim.
Rodriguez was arrested along with the victim’s roommate, who was taken into custody by Indio police on suspicion of being an accessory to murder and witness intimation but was not charged in the crime.
According to Detective Matthew Gutting, Rodriguez admitted to the killing in an interview with the police, allegedly telling Gutting “I’m a good aim.”
Gutting said the defendant admitted to shooting Struzas once in the arm with a gun that he claimed was handed to him minutes before by her roommate, who allegedly told Rodriquez to “get her.”
A motive was not disclosed, and a weapon was never located.
Rodriguez, who has several documented felony convictions in Riverside County, was on probation at the time of his most recent arrest stemming from a 2019 conviction for possessing a controlled substance for sale.
Rodriguez remains held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning awaiting trial.
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