MONROE — A Monroe man was sentenced Thursday to a little more than 20 years in prison for attacking three men with a butcher knife, killing one of them.
On the night of Feb. 9, 2019, Kevin Rodriguez stabbed Evodio Garcia Martinez, 56, while the victim was asleep in his apartment under a blanket on a sofa.
Rodriguez, 30, was charged with murder, but a jury acquitted him of that charge last month. Instead he was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault.
Kailee Garcia, a niece-in-law of Garcia Martinez, fought back tears as she spoke at a hearing Thursday in Snohomish County Superior Court. She shared fond memories of her late uncle and asked Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss to hand down the maximum possible sentence for his killer.
“It is important to know the real Evodio before this monstrous crime,” Garcia told the courtroom. “I immediately felt welcome by his heartfelt smile — one that he always had despite many trials he faced in his short life. Evodio always was one to give a hand and expect nothing in return.”
The slain man’s body was laid to rest by his family in his hometown in Mexico, Garcia said. He was buried next to his son, who also died in a homicide.
“Kevin had battled his addiction for far too long,” Garcia said. “Instead of making a better life choice and getting the help to overcome his addiction, he chose to murder Evodio Garcia Martinez in a manner so senseless that his own family was told by the medical examiners that he wouldn’t be recognizable.”
Garcia Martinez often went to bed with a blanket covering his face to muffle the noise of his roommates at his residence on Terrace Street in Monroe. The night he was killed, 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 swinging two butcher knives. His face was obscured by a bandana and a baseball cap. Rodriguez 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. Eventually they restrained him.
During the commotion, the group kept knocking against the couch where the roommate had slept. Garcia Martinez remained still. The blanket slid off of him to reveal he’d suffered stab wounds to the face, neck and chest. Police reportedly arrived at the apartment to find Rodriguez had been disarmed and tied up with copper wire by the roommates. One roommate pointed at the defendant and said, “He killed my friend. He killed him.”
On the witness stand last month, Rodriguez told the court he had used methamphetamine the night of the attack. He claimed it was self-defense, because Garcia Martinez had stood up and pointed a gun at him. He testified that memory of the events that followed was fuzzy. A gun was never found at the crime scene, or at any point during police investigation.
Detectives did find 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.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Mark Koenen performed two psychiatric evaluations on the defendant after the attack. As the final witness in the trial, he told the court that methamphetamine has the potential to induce psychotic symptoms in users, such as hallucinations.
Under state guidelines, Rodriguez faced roughly 16 to 20 years behind bars.
Defense attorney David Roberson asked the judge to give Rodriguez a sentence of about 18 years, arguing Rodriguez’s actions lacked a motive and were a product of his diminished mental capacity on the night of the attack.
“There was no animosity between Mr. Rodriguez and Evodio Garcia Martinez,” Roberson said. “There was no prior relationship between the two. There was absolutely no explanation — other than delusions and psychosis — that would explain why this event took place.”
Deputy prosecutor Bob Langbehn asked the judge to order a sentence at the high end of the standard range, a little over 20 years.
“The defendant’s testimony displays an incredible lack of remorse and an incredible lack of insight into his own culpability and his own atrocities,” Langbehn said. “That remorse, or lack thereof, is not due to any kind of drug usage. He was attempting to justify what he did, and there is simply no justification.”
Judge Weiss sided with the state.
“Mr. Rodriguez is the one who chose to consume alcohol and methamphetamine that day,” Weiss said. “The law does not excuse his behavior for that — there was no mental defense that was available that the jurors relied upon to find him not guilty.”
Rodriguez declined to address the judge. He has already filed a notice that he plans to appeal his case.
Six of Rodriguez’s supporters were present in court Thursday. The group insisted that he is innocent.
“We know who the real killer is!” a man shouted at the courtroom, at the end of the hearing.
“People are talking all around town,” a woman added.
They threatened to sue the prosecutors on the case.
The defendant’s family and friends declined to speak with a Daily Herald reporter.
Rodriguez has a felony record for possessing drugs and stolen vehicles, as well as misdemeanors for domestic violence.
“All of this,” Judge Weiss said, “was tragic, is tragic and could have been avoided.”
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen