Rolando Ruiz Jr., 44, was executed by lethal injection on 7 March 2017 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder-for-hire of a woman to collect a life insurance payout.
In July 1992, Mark Rodriguez, 17, approached Ruiz, then 20, at the home of a mutual friend and asked him if he "wanted to make some money." When Ruiz responded affirmatively, Rodriguez explained that he wanted Ruiz to kill Theresa Rodriguez, his sister-in-law and the wife of his brother, Michael Rodriguez. Mark invited Ruiz into Michael's car, and Michael introduced himself. The three men then drove to a restaurant in San Antonio where Michael wanted the murder to take place. He instructed Ruiz to kill and rob Theresa as the couple arrived at the restaurant on the night of Friday, 10 July. After Ruiz accepted the deal, Michael paid him $1,000, promising him another $1,000 after Ruiz completed the murder.
In accordance with the plan, Ruiz went to the restaurant on 10 July, but he called off the hit after seeing a security guard. Michael and Ruiz rescheduled the murder to occur at a theater the following evening, but that plan was called off because Michael and Theresa failed to show up. Michael and Ruiz rescheduled the murder once more, this time to occur at the theater on Tuesday, 14 July.
At 7:00 p.m. that evening, Mark called Ruiz to confirm that he, Theresa, and Michael were at the theater and that the plan was on. Ruiz drove to the theater and watched as the two brothers and Theresa got into Michael's car. He followed them in his truck as they drove home. After Michael pulled into his driveway, Ruiz parked his truck next door. He walked up the driveway and asked Mark for directions. He then asked Mark, "Do I do it?" Mark replied, "Yes." Ruiz walked over to the passenger side of Michael's car. As Theresa stepped out, she looked up at Ruiz and smiled at him. He aimed a .357 Magnum revolver at her head and pulled the trigger once, killing her. He then left the scene, got rid of his truck, played some basketball, and went to bed.
On Friday, 17 July, Mark paid Ruiz the second $1,000 installment.
Acting upon a tip, San Antonio police arrested Ruiz at an apartment in San Antonio early in the morning of 23 July. He gave three written statements stating the facts of Theresa Rodriguez's killing as related above.
Investigators discovered that Michael owned a $250,000 life insurance policy on Theresa and had recently applied for additional life insurance policies of $150,000 each on himself and his wife.
At his trial, Ruiz pleaded not guilty. He admitted killing Theresa, but claimed that he did so unintentionally after ingesting a large quantity of narcotics. He claimed that the confessions he signed were blank forms when he signed them. He did not offer an apology or express remorse.
The prosecution presented evidence that Ruiz liked to fight, sometimes carried a gun, and once beat up and seriously injured his girlfriend, Roxanne Conway, and stole her car. While in Bexar County jail awaiting trial, he joined the Texas Syndicate prison gang and participated in three attacks on guards and fellow inmates.
The defense called on Roxanne Conway to testify. She admitted that Ruiz assaulted her and at that time, she thought he was going to kill her. She acknowledged that she had suffered severe facial and dental injuries from his attack, which required stitches and multiple dental surgeries. Nevertheless, she said she forgave him because she believed the attack was a result of Ruiz's drug problem. She described him as always "very sweet" and "caring."
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