A state appeals court panel Tuesday rejected a bid for re-sentencing by a Panorama City man who was convicted of murdering his wife with a machete in an attack caught on surveillance video, then forcing his way into his neighbors’ apartment where a couple and their teenage son were injured.
David Ernesto Rodriguez, now 39, was convicted in July 2021 of first-degree murder for the June 22, 2019, attack on his 32-year-old wife, Karla, in the courtyard of an apartment complex, along with one count each of attempted murder, mayhem and burglary and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Rodriguez’s wife called 911 and reported that her husband was threatening her and “wants to kill me,” and she could be heard “screaming hysterically for help before the call went silent,” according to the 15-page ruling from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.
“Video footage from the apartment building showed Karla fleeing the apartment and running down the stairs to the courtyard. Defendant pursued her, holding the machete,” the justices noted in the ruling. “When Karla reached the bottom of the stairs, she tripped and fell; defendant caught up and struck her with the machete multiple times, nearly severing her head. The parties stipulated that Karla died from multiple sharp-force injuries to the neck.”
Rodriguez then forced his way into the neighbors’ apartment and attacked the man, who lost an eye and suffered injuries to his nose and arm, Deputy District Attorney Julie Kramer said after the verdict. The man’s wife and then-17-year-old son were also injured when they tried to intervene.
The prosecutor said there was no evidence presented to support Rodriguez’s claim that he believed his wife was having some form of relationship with the adult male neighbor.
Rodriguez met Los Angeles police at the building’s locked front gate and responded “I killed them” when officers asked what happened, according to the appellate court panel’s opinion.
He was arrested that morning and has remained behind bars since then. He was sentenced in September 2021 to 46 years to life in state prison.
The defendant unsuccessfully contended that his case should be sent back to the trial court for re-sentencing involving the attack on his neighbor’s wife based on a recent change in state law.