35-year term possible in stalking conviction

2011-08-25T00:00:00Z 2014-09-05T15:24:37Z 35-year term possible in stalking convictionKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 25, 2011 12:00 am  • 

A Tucson man is facing more than 35 years in prison after being convicted Wednesday on 65 of 68 felony charges he faced for stalking his former girlfriend.

Leo Rodriguez was indicted in October 2009 on one count each of stalking, trafficking in the identity of another, computer tampering and 65 counts of aggravated harassment/domestic violence. Rodriguez was convicted in absentia.

During a six-day trial, Deputy Pima County Attorney Julie Sottosanti presented evidence that Rodriguez continually violated an order of protection by repeatedly following, texting and phoning his former girlfriend over a six-month period. Evidence also was presented that he assaulted her sister, used a Tucson Police Department officer to track her and her relatives down, and accessed her phone account without permission.

Although the texts came anonymously from prepaid phones, the phones were linked to Rodriguez, in part, from the context. Some pleaded with the victim to resume their relationship, others were rage-filled rants filled with sexual slurs and threats.

Detectives found a grocery sack filled with unused, prepaid phones in Rodriguez's home, and they linked him to six other phones that were used to contact the victim. Rodriguez texted the woman so frequently that her phone couldn't retain all of the messages, causing her to copy them to her computer to be used as evidence, Sottosanti said.

Detectives also found a bill for a Global Positioning System in Rodriguez's home and suspect he placed a GPS device on the victim's car at one point as he showed up at an Ikea store in Phoenix while the victim and her sister were visiting. He also showed up on her second-story balcony, at a casino and a shopping mall. In addition, Rodriguez's computer was filled with latitudes and longitudes, thus corroborating evidence Rodriguez was tracking someone.

Former Tucson Police Department Officer Angel Montalvo also testified.

Montalvo was placed on three years' probation in January after pleading guilty to three counts of computer tampering. Montalvo admitted giving the woman's address and phone number to Rodriguez despite knowing she had obtained a restraining order against Rodriguez after an alleged assault.

Montalvo also acknowledged that he came across warrants for Rodriguez on four separate occasions but simply told Rodriguez to turn himself in. Lastly, Montalvo admitted he gave Rodriguez information on seven other people associated with the woman.

"This case is about obsession and control," Sottosanti told jurors during closing arguments last week. "He made her life miserable. He wanted to punish her for not doing what he wanted."

Defense attorney Rafael Gallego told jurors the state did not prove the texts came from Rodriguez and they "can't convict on assumptions, probabilities and guesses." He questioned the woman's credibility, saying she was the sole witnesses to several alleged incidents.

Rodriguez disappeared in April 2010 after a preliminary hearing on a subsequent stalking case involving the same woman. He had been released from jail after posting $75,000.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

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