A Pasco teen now must answer to a murder charge for allegedly shooting a driver in the face in what the prosecutor thinks was a “random act of violence.”
Pedro Cadenas was informed in court Tuesday that his charges had been amended to reflect the July 29 death of that driver, Jorge Rodriguez.
Cadenas, 17, faces one count each of first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and second-degree unlawful possession of a gun.
The murder charge replaced first-degree assault with a firearm.
“Factually, everything remains the same. We were advised from the family early on (that Rodriguez might die), and we anticipated that this may be the eventual charge,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant.
He added that prosecutors were hopeful they wouldn’t need a more serious charge than assault with Rodriguez’s survival.
Rodriguez, 51, died 3 1/2 weeks after he was shot while driving his SUV on Lewis Street in Pasco.
The father of three and soon-to-be grandfather was on his way to the grocery store to pick up tomatoes after calling his daughter before heading home late on July 4.
It’s not clear when Cadenas got into the passenger seat of the Cadillac Escalade or why he targeted Rodriguez.
“As far as I know from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t appear that there was any kind of connection. That’s the big mystery,” Sant told the Herald. “The question I have is, was it truly just a random act of violence, or are these two connected by some other way?”
Rodriguez was shot at 10:30 p.m., causing the SUV to leave the road and crash through a fence and into a parked car.
Surveillance video from a business near the crash shows Cadenas and Rodriguez getting out of the SUV and taking off in separate directions, court documents said.
Rodriguez, who was bleeding from his face, waved down passers-by and dialed his daughter’s number so someone could share that her father had been shot, documents said.
Cadenas allegedly got into the driver’s seat of the Cadillac and tried to drive away, but he was forced to abandon those efforts because the gas tank was stuck on a fence post. He then ran off, according to police.
Cadenas returned to a barbecue about 40 minutes after he left, and had dried blood on his left arm, court documents said.
Asked by an ex-girlfriend if he shot someone, Cadenas replied, “I had to do it,” documents said.
He was arrested two days later in Sunnyside.
Rodriguez was treated at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, then flown to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. The farmworker, who had been in a coma with brain damage, was moved to hospice care in Kennewick on July 22.
Cadenas’ trial date remains Sept. 13 for now. However, defense attorney Craig Stilwill — who likely will have co-counsel assigned to help him now that it’s a murder case — said Tuesday that more time will be needed to review all evidence and reports as they come in, Sant said.
The prosecutor anticipates that given the holidays toward the end of the year, a more realistic trial date may be in early 2018.
Cadenas is being held in the Benton-Franklin Juvenile Detention Center on $750,000 bail.