Man sentenced to 55 years in officer's death


More than a year since the tragic loss of Officer Will, the man who killed him is punished, sentenced to 55 years in prison; a difficult day for all involved.

As the judge read the jury's verdict, "Confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for a for a period of 55 years," Rodriguez held his side and cried out audibly, then slumped back into his attorney's arms.

The jury took just four hours to decide his fate.

"Kevin was my one true love, my best friend and you took him from me. Kevin was an amazing father to my kids and they loved him very much," said Officer Will's widow, Alicia. "My husband will never get to spend a single Father's Day with my child."

She was six months pregnant when her husband was killed. She wrote a statement to read after sentencing in court. She was unable to finish reading and her mother stepped in.

"You have broken my family forever. What am I supposed to tell my son when he asks why he doesn't have a daddy?" read Cyndee Graham, Alicia's mother.

Rodriguez didn't look at Alicia Will during her statement. His eyes were closed and at times he shook his head.

In May of last year, Rodriguez hit Officer Will with his car at 90 miles per hour, as the officer was investigating another wreck on the North Loop East. Blood tests later determined Rodriguez's blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit two hours after the wreck.

Prosecutors had asked the jury to send him to prison for 99 years or life. Still they consider the verdict a victory.

"We are just very relieved the jury got to hear everything and came to a just decision in this," said prosecutor Catherine Evans.

Rodriguez's attorney had argued that his client never intended to kill Officer Will, saying his death was an accident. His attorney says Rodriguez couldn't speak after the verdict.

"Johoan is too busy crying to say anything. He's devastated," said Rick DeToto.

Tears on both sides. But the grief felt by the Will family will no doubt outlast the time served by Rodriguez.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez must serve 27 1/2 years before even becoming eligible for parole.

Officer Will honored posthumously

Today, on the same day as the verdict was handed down, the state of Texas honored Officer Will posthumously for his bravery during the last few moments of his life. Authorities say Officer Will warned others to get out of the way before he could save himself.

The ceremony was held at the State Capitol Building in Austin. Two other HPD officers, along with 18 other law enforcement officers statewide, received the 2011 State of Texas Law Enforcement Achievement awards.

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