LNA 10192018 MS-1309

Victor Arnoldo Rodas listens through a translator during his murder trial in Bedford on October 17, 2018.

UPDATE: A Bedford County jury recommended Victor Arnoldo Rodas spend 55 years in prison on Friday after convicting him of first-degree murder and two other charges in the March 2017 slaughter of Lynchburg teen Raymond Wood.

Friday brought an abrupt end to the four-day trial.

The jury deliberated on a verdict for a little over an hour Friday, returning quickly enough that Judge James Updike had to draw a line on the verdict forms for the jury foreperson to sign on. They took about a half hour to determine Rodas' sentence.

Nance rested his case against Rodas just before 10 a.m. Friday, having interviewing a forensic examiner who conducted an autopsy on Wood’s body on March 27, 2017, the day after law enforcement found his body on Roaring Run Road.

Rodas’ attorney, Matthew Pack, didn’t present any evidence in the case. He’s not required to do so: in criminal cases, the prosecutor bears the burden on proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


EARLIER: Victor Arnoldo Rodas was found guilty today of first-degree murder and two other charges in the March 27, 2017 death of Lynchburg teen Raymond Wood on Friday.

The jury deliberated from about 12:45 to around 2 p.m., with an allowance for lunch. Their decision follows three days of evidence presented in his trial.

Rodas was also charged with robbery, gang participation and abduction for pecuniary benefit. The jury found him guilty of gang participation and a lesser charge of simple abduction. He was found not guilty of robbery.


EARLIER: After hearing three days of evidence, a Bedford County jury began deliberating Friday whether 21-year-old Victor Arnoldo Rodas is guilty of first-degree murder in the allegedly gang-related death of Lynchburg teen Raymond Wood.

Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance rested his case against Rodas just before 10 a.m. Friday, having interviewing a forensic examiner who conducted an autopsy on Wood’s body on March 27, 2017, the day after law enforcement found his body on Roaring Run Road.

Rodas’ attorney, Matthew Pack, didn’t present any evidence in the case. He’s not required to do so: in criminal cases, the prosecutor bears the burden on proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Witness testimony and evidence presented to the jury over the last three days has shown Rodas contacted Wood about a marijuana deal on March 27, then drove four other men — all of them charged with gang participation and murder in the incident — to Wood’s house on Coronado Lane in Lynchburg that night.

According to witness testimony from one of Rodas’ co-defendants, they attacked Wood outside his house, beat him and dragged him into the car.

When Rodas stopped the car on Roaring Run Road, a little way from U.S. 221, his co-defendant said Wood had been choked unconscious and the others dragged him onto the road. Rodas then drove away from the scene and returned after the assailants killed him by way of 29 knife wounds to his torso, wrist and neck.

Nance said Friday Rodas is guilty of murder through concert of action with the other defendants, having set up the fake marijuana deal and bought cloves with a co-defendant for the attack earlier that day.

He also showed the jury evidence toward proving Rodas was a member of the violent street gang MS-13, displaying cell phone photos of Rodas wearing an “MS” hat and making what expert witnesses said were gang signals with a “homeboy” member of the gang. Drawings found at Rodas’ house in what investigators believed to be his binder displayed more gang signals, expert witnesses said,

Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James Updike read the jury its instructions and both attorneys presented their closing arguments by 12:30 p.m. The jury will deliberate until they reach a unanimous verdict.

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