UPDATE: Teen intentionally killed a Pasco father on a grocery store run, say jurors

Murder verdict read in Pedro Cadenas trial

Pedro Cadenas, 18, is found guilty by a Franklin County jury of killing Jorge Rodriguez of Pasco who had been on a grocery run before joining Fourth of July festivities.
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Pedro Cadenas, 18, is found guilty by a Franklin County jury of killing Jorge Rodriguez of Pasco who had been on a grocery run before joining Fourth of July festivities.

An 18-year-old was convicted Monday of killing a Pasco father who had been on a grocery run before joining Fourth of July festivities.

Pedro Cadenas stared straight ahead Monday as a clerk read the guilty verdicts that will send the teen to prison for the death of Jorge Rodriguez.

The Franklin County Superior Court jury started deliberating Monday morning, and announced it had a decision shortly before 2 p.m.

The case went to the jury Wednesday evening, just before the long Thanksgiving holiday break.

Cadenas was convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree unlawful gun possession and attempted vehicle theft.

Pasco Sgt. Chad Pettijohn testifies about the Fourth of July shooting of Jorge Rodriguez during the murder trial for Pedro Cadenas in Franklin County Superior Court.

The murder charge includes the special allegation he was armed with a gun when he killed Rodriguez on July 4, 2017.

Defense attorneys Shelley Ajax and Daniel Stovern told the Herald did not want to discuss the verdicts.

Cadenas, who already has a felony record, is facing 28 years and five months to just over 36 years in prison. Five years of that will be mandatory and served before he does the rest of the time.

He is expected back in court Tuesday to set the sentencing date, and address his upcoming trial for allegedly assaulting corrections officers in the Franklin County jail.

Jorge Rodriguez.jpg
Jorge Rodriguez Courtesy the Rodriguez family

Rodriguez, 51, died 3 1/2 weeks after he was shot driving his SUV on Lewis Street.

The father of three and soon-to-be grandfather had gone to the grocery store to pick up tomatoes before heading home.

At some point, Cadenas got into the passenger seat of Rodriguez’s Cadillac Escalade. He shot the driver at 10:30 p.m., causing the Cadillac to 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.

Prosecutors had called it a “random act of violence.”

Rodriguez, who also used the name Manuel Molina, was bleeding from his face as he waved down passers-by and dialed his daughter’s number so someone could share that her father had been shot.

Meanwhile, Cadenas tried to drive off in the Cadillac, but was forced to abandon those efforts because the gas tank was stuck on a fence post. He then ran off, returning to a holiday barbecue.

When asked by an ex-girlfriend he he shot someone, Cadenas reportedly replied, “I had to do it.”

He was arrested two days later in Sunnyside.

Pedro Cadenas guilty
Pedro Cadenas, 18, is handcuffed by a corrections officer following a guilty verdict Monday in his murder trial in Franklin County Superior Court. Watch a video at: Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Prosecutor Shawn Sant handled the case with Deputy Prosecutor Dave Corkrum.

On Monday after the verdicts, Sant thanked lead Detective Tony Aceves, along with the other police officers and detectives and Pasco firefighters who tried to help Rodriguez that night and later worked on the case.

Sant also gave “special thanks to the many citizens who stopped to help Mr. Rodriguez prior to police and fire personnel arriving on scene.”

Cadenas still has a Dec. 12 trial date in Franklin County on three counts of custodial assault and two counts of second-degree malicious mischief.

When corrections officers in early May responded to his jail cell for a broken fire sprinkler head, Cadenas spit on the two officers after asking to take a shower.

Later that month, he asked for drinking water in his cell, then threw a full cup at a corrections officer and cussed at her, according to prosecutors.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer