Accused kidnapper trial underway |

Accused kidnapper trial underway

Gregory Crofton

Wearing a white dress shirt, tie and glasses, a 31-year-old from Reno sat in El Dorado County Superior Court accused of kidnapping a woman at gunpoint.

Joseph Rodoni, a convicted felon in California and Nevada, is now charged with, in addition to kidnapping, being a felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed gun, assault with a firearm and driving under the influence.

His jury trial began Monday. On Tuesday, a 29-year-old woman from South Lake Tahoe took the stand and testified about her alleged abduction.

She said she was on her way to work at a Stateline casino on Nov. 29 when around 2 p.m. she was forced from a bus stop at U.S. Highway 50 and Reno Avenue into blue Ford Mustang.

The woman identified Rodoni as the driver of the car. She testified that before he pointed a semi-automatic gun and ordered her into the vehicle, he held what looked like a bottle of bourbon in one hand and several times offered her a ride.

Law enforcement said the woman escaped her captor at the 3800 block of Highway 50 at the Midway Motel while he dug keys from his pocket. She ran about a mile from the motel to a Subway sandwich shop near the intersection of Pioneer Trail and Highway 50 where she called for a ride from a casino shuttle.

“The first thing that came to my mind was to get out of there and get to work where there are people I know,” she said.

Lawyers asked the woman why it took her more than an hour to call and report the incident to police.

“You see in the movies how the whole thing turns your whole life upside-down,” she said. “I didn’t want to go through that. That’s the reason I was kind of hesitating.”

Rodoni was arrested by California Highway Patrol an hour and a half after the kidnapping. Officers found his car in a snowbank at Busch Way and Pioneer Trail. Officer Greg Norrgard said he found Rodoni highly intoxicated and slumped over the wheel.

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