EVERETT — Kevin Rodriguez stabbed three men with a butcher knife in 2019 because he feared for his safety, he told a jury Thursday in often rambling testimony.
One of them was found on a couch in a Monroe apartment, where he bled to death. His skin was riddled with more knife wounds than police could count. Rodriguez, 30, of Monroe, denied killing him.
“I know you’ve seen the pictures, but I didn’t do that. No way,” Rodriguez testified. “What I did was try to help myself get out of the house.”
On Friday, a jury found Rodriguez guilty of first-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault. He had been on trial for first-degree murder, but jurors acquitted him of that charge.
The jury heard closing arguments Thursday in Snohomish County Superior Court.
“On the night of February 9, going into February 10, Evodio Garcia Martinez woke up to a nightmare,” deputy prosecutor Tyler Scott told the courtroom. “He woke up to what would be his final nightmare, as the defendant plunged two knives through the blanket that lay over the top of him.”
Garcia Martinez, 56, often went to bed with a blanket covering his face to muffle the noise of his roommates at his residence on Terrace Street. That night, he’d fallen asleep on his couch near the apartment’s front door around 9 p.m.
Four of his roommates headed out for Tulalip Resort Casino shortly after. All seemed normal and quiet when they came back at 2 a.m., according to court documents.
One of the men opened his bedroom door and encountered Rodriguez — his face obscured by a bandana and baseball cap — swinging two butcher knives. The defendant slashed the man across the face, court papers say. A second roommate suffered knife wounds to the shoulder and elbow.
Two roommates ran just outside of the apartment, and Rodriguez reportedly locked them out, leaving himself inside with the two others. They fought back with a vacuum cleaner and wooden board and eventually restrained him.
During the scuffle, the group kept knocking against the couch where the roommate had slept. Garcia Martinez remained still. The blanket slid off him to reveal he’d suffered stab wounds to the face, neck and chest. Knife slits checkered the couch cushions and blankets. Police reportedly arrived to the apartment to find Rodriguez was disarmed. The men had tied him up with copper wire. One roommate pointed at the defendant and said, “He killed my friend. He killed him.”
Two officers struggled to gain control of Rodriguez before they detained him. The defendant was talkative en route to a hospital, but his words were mostly incoherent except for one statement, according to police.
“I hurt him, I hurt him,” Rodriguez reportedly told police.
In the hospital, the defendant repeatedly called out the name of a man who wasn’t there.
Police reportedly found foil and a lighter in the defendant’s pocket.
The jury heard Rodriguez’s side of the story when he took the witness stand this week in his own trial. He told the court he knew the residents of the Terrace Street apartment because he’d lived there in the past. He’d been let in that night, he said, because he planned to move back in.
After the roommates left, Garcia Martinez stood up and pointed a gun at him, he testified. Rodriguez claimed he stabbed him in self-defense. His memory of the events that followed was fuzzy, he said on the witness said. A gun was never found at the crime scene, or at any point during police investigation.
Detectives found two knives at the crime scene and sent them to a lab for DNA testing. Tests found Garcia Martinez’s blood on a blade and Rodriguez’s DNA on a handle.
On the witness stand, Rodriguez said he’d used methamphetamine the night of the attack. He said he had a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
Forensic psychiatrist Mark Koenen performed two psychiatric evaluations on the defendant after the attack.
As the final witness, he told the court that methamphetamine has the potential to induce psychotic symptoms in users, such as hallucinations.
He said he believed the defendant’s paranoid, disorganized behavior that night indicated he may have experienced methamphetamine-induced psychosis.
Defense attorney David Roberson urged the jury to reach a verdict of manslaughter in the first degree, based on the defendant’s mental state.
“Evidence of mental illness or disorder may be taken into consideration in determining whether the defendant had the capacity to form premeditation,” Roberson told the courtroom. “We know there’s no premeditation. We know there’s no intent from the uncontested testimony of Dr. Koenen. Someone going through a psychosis cannot do either.”
Prosecutors argued “no act is any less criminal” after somebody chooses to do drugs.
“Kevin uses drugs, he uses alcohol, but he’s not crazy,” Scott said. “He’s not schizophrenic, he’s not bipolar. He has symptoms, according to Dr. Koenen, of psychosis from his drug use. That does not excuse him from getting a knife in his hand, after voluntarily taking drugs, and stabbing somebody to death.”
Rodriguez has a felony record of possessing drugs and stolen vehicles, as well as misdemeanors for domestic violence.
His most recent conviction was for felony malicious mischief, for throwing a rock through the window of a bistro on Lewis Street. Court papers say he’d accused the business owner of not paying him for work from years earlier. The owner looked into it, but found no record that he ever worked there.
A sentencing hearing for assault and manslaughter is set for July 22.
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen