Woman Accused In Mother’s Murder Ruled Competent To Stand Trial
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South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Despite psychiatric issues, outbursts of anger and an attempt to mutiliate herself, 40-year-old Yudenia Rodriguez has been found competent to stand trial for reportedly stabbing her 66-year-old mother to death during an argument.
After a hearing at the Metro Justice Building, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith found Rodriguez competent to stand trial for the murder in early October. Neighbors said the victim—Sonia Santiesteban—had just returned from church services with her grandchildren when the attack happened at her mobile home in Southwest Miami-Dade.
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench reported that Rodriguez said nothing at her hearing. She stared somberly with her head bowed as her legs were shaking uncontrollably while she was shackled at the wrists.
Psychologist Sonia Ruiz testified that Rodriguez would have outbursts of anger, at times accusing her of laughing at her. She testified that Rodriguez asked her several times if her mother was dead. She said when she told her yes, Rodriguez would not understand and ask again.
“She has a number of psychiatric issues,” said Ruiz, adding that Rodriguez has been admitted to two hospitals and was on medication.
“I had to repeat questions to her two or three times and that was not very effective,” she said. “She seemed very
confused. When I saw her, she was not competent to proceed.”
Rodriguez was also asked to show her wrists to demonstrate where she had cut herself.
“She said she cut herself with a blade but she offered no other details,” Ruiz said.
But psychologist Enrique Suarez testified that he found that Rodriguez understood the consequences of what could happen if a jury found her guilty. He said she knew she would go to jail for a long time if that happened.
Suarez’s testimony appeared to convince the Judge that Rodriguez was competent. Suarez said he had done 8,000 evaluations since 1989.
Rodriguez faces charges including 2nd degree murder with a deadly weapon and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
The children meanwhile are trying to recover while remembering their beloved grandmother.
“It’s really hard,” said Santiesteban’s 15-year-old granddaughter Sonia when CBS4’s Maggie Newland interviewed
the children at a Thanksgiving lunch in Southwest Miami-Dade. “Every year we would do something with my grandmother. I am glad we are with people who I know we are going to have a good time with.”
“It’s been hard and this is new to me,” said Sonia. “I have been with my grandmother for 8 years. So I am going to take this day by day. I was so scared at one point that I started crying because I didn’t want to go back to a foster home. It has been so helpful with everyone giving us support. They were with us 100 per cent and that is why we love them.”
Sonia was referring to Delores Ward and her husband, who were friends from Pastor Treavor Pound’s Church of the Nazarene. They are sharing temporary custody of the children.
The children’s parents were not involved with their lives and the children were in foster care until Santiesteban adopted them.
A grateful Mercy said, “If Ms. Ward or Treavor would not have come to our side, we would have been in foster care and we would have been going to a different school with other friends by now and we would have been with people we don’t even know.”
The youngsters said they were grateful for this past Thanksgiving.
A smiling 11-year-old Anthony said, “I have food and family and people caring for me and people who love me.”
“I feel happy,” said Mercy. “I have a roof over my head and food on the table and friends and family.”
After Sonia Santiesteban adopted the children, she said she wanted to give them the best life she could.
CBS4 News partner, El Nuevo Herald, featured the family in the newspaper’s “Wish Book.”
Neighbors said Rodriguez had arrived at her mother’s mobile home over the weekend of October 5th. According to arresting documents, Rodriguez lived with her mother and the argument started when her mother asked her to move out.
The Reverend Pound told D’Oench “It was very sad what happened to her. He said Santiesteban was devoted to her grandchildren, adding “She will be missed. We want to do everything we can to keep the children safe. And we want to show them all the love that they need. We just need to love them and support them and be there for them.”
There is a fund set up to help the children with
Donations can be made to:
Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe Inc.
Attn: Finance Dept
P.O. Box 010951
Miami, FL 33101
Please note “Sonia’s Kids”