A Kansas City man received a six-year prison sentence Friday after pleading guilty to one count of involuntary vehicular manslaughter in the traffic death of his girlfriend.
Raymundo Rodriguez, 31, admitted his role in the Oct. 26 wrong-way driving accident on the Heart of America Bridge that left Azeneth Rodriguez, 30, dead.
During an emotional 30-minute hearing at the Jackson County Courthouse, Raymundo Rodriguez also pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Schieber sentenced Rodriguez to six years on both the involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault charges, and three years each for the two counts of armed criminal action. The accident also left the driver of an SUV injured.
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All sentences will run concurrently.
According to court documents, Rodriguez had been at the Power & Light District with his girlfriend. Just past 3 a.m., while crossing northbound on the Heart of America Bridge, his Chevrolet Impala crossed into the bridge’s southbound lanes and collided with the other vehicle.
A test conducted about two hours later indicated that Raymundo Rodriguez had a blood alcohol content of 0.101. Investigators later determined he was driving at 64 mph seconds before impact.
Azeneth Rodriguez, riding in the Impala’s front passenger seat, died in the collision.
“I should have taken care of her,” Raymundo Rodriguez told Schieber.
“I will have to live with this for the rest of my life. She’s always going to be a part of me, forever. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Paulina Furnari, Azeneth Rodriguez’s sister, said her sibling “had a laugh that was contagious,” adding that it “never gets easer. Every day feels the same without Azeneth. We lost Azeneth to a selfish choice.”
Roque Rodriguez, Raymundo Rodriguez’s brother, told the judge that Azeneth Rodriguez was considered a member of his family as well.
“We, too, have grieved,” he said. “It could have been avoided. It was an accident, a horrible accident.”
Both Furnari and Roque Rodriguez said the guilty pleas Friday did little to ease their pain.
“Nothing would have made it better for us,” Furnari said.
Roque Rodriguez said he regretted that the traffic death had left the two families distant from each other.
“This is now the path that we must walk,” he said.
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