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Charges amended in death of Floyd County toddler
Instead of capital murder, a Floyd County man was indicted on three lesser counts in his girl’s death.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
A Floyd County man who was initially charged with capital murder has instead been indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder, malicious wounding and felony child abuse and neglect.
Eder Guzman-Rodriguez , 30, originally from Mexico, was arrested and charged with capital murder after his 2-year-old daughter, Jocelyn , was found dead Nov. 23, 2011, in the family’s home. Virginia law allows capital murder charges in a number of situations, including when a victim is younger than 14 and the suspect older than 21.
On Jan. 25, Guzman-Rodriguez — whose name was initially reported by law enforcement as Rodriguez-Guzman — appeared in Floyd County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
Guzman-Rodriguez’s lawyer, Jonathon Venzie, said that the waiving of a preliminary hearing “essentially means that we conceded that there would be sufficient evidence to go forward.”
Floyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt said Tuesday that after considering all of the evidence, her office chose to indict on the three new charges instead of the capital murder charge. The indictments were presented to a grand jury on Friday.
Guzman-Rodriguez appeared in court Tuesday morning to waive his right to a speedy trial, Shortt said. A future trial date is expected to be set by March 19, she said.
Few details about Jocelyn’s death have been released by authorities. The Floyd County Sheriff’s Office has released information that officers were called to a home in the 100 block of Lance Drive at 9:39 p.m. Nov. 23, 2011, where they found a girl dead.
The Roanoke Times has previously reported that Guzman-Rodriguez lived with his wife and their daughter in Longview Court, a small mobile home park just outside the town of Floyd.
After Jocelyn’s death, neighbors told the newspaper that Guzman-Rodriguez was level-headed, religious-minded and appeared to be a devoted father.
Both Venzie and Shortt have declined to talk about the cause of death.
Shortt on Tuesday said the victim of the alleged malicious wounding was Guzman-Rodriguez’s wife. Shortt said she could not comment further on that charge.
The offense date for both the malicious wounding charge and the child neglect charge is Nov. 23, 2011, according to online court records.
Guzman-Rodriguez, who is not a U.S. citizen, has required an interpreter to translate past proceedings. His preliminary hearing in January drew several of his and the victim’s family members.
“A preliminary hearing would have been very difficult for the family to hear,” Venzie said in January. “There was nothing to be gained and pain to be had.”
Guzman-Rodriguez remains in custody at the New River Valley Regional Jail.
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