Jury finds man guilty in 2017 Lake Tahoe hotel murder
While not accepting a claim of self-defense, a Douglas County jury decided the stabbing death of a Reno man in a Stateline hotel room wasn’t premeditated.
The jury took six hours Friday, June 21, to come to the conclusion that Jose Rodriguez-Quezada, 45, was guilty of second-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon.
The eight-man, four-woman jury got the case around 5 p.m. and according to the court returned a verdict around 11:30 p.m.
Rodriguez-Quezada was determined to be guilty of killing Kevin Edwards in a hotel room at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Oct. 3, 2017.
Edwards checked into the Hard Rock on Oct. 1, 2017. Jurors saw video of Edwards and Rodriguez-Quezada meeting just after midnight on Oct. 3.
Edwards’ stabbed and slashed body was found sitting in a chair by a housekeeper late that afternoon.
According to prosecutor Ric Casper, Edwards was moved into the chair by Rodriguez-Quezada, where a dime was placed in his mouth and a granola bar put on each shoulder before being covered in clothes.
Edwards had been stabbed or slashed 30 times, with many of the wounds fatal, and had received 10 other blows.
Edwards’ BMW sedan was gone, as were most signs Rodriguez-Quezada had been in the room, including fingerprints and any indicia of the drugs that were found in Edwards system.
Reno defense attorney Theresa Ristenpart told jurors that Edwards brought the knife and that Rodriguez-Quezada was defending himself from Edwards when he killed him.
Rodriguez-Quezada remains in custody without bail. He is on an immigration hold as a previously deported felon.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in district court on Aug. 26, where he faces life in prison with a possibility of parole after 10 years, or 25 years with a possibility of parole after 10 years. The deadly weapon enhancement requires a consecutive sentence of 1-20 years.
Regardless of his sentencing, Rodriguez-Quezada will face deportation proceedings once he has completed his prison sentence.
The jury was empaneled on June 12 and received the case for deliberation on the seventh day.
More than two weeks had been set aside for the trial, where Casper expected to have to prove Rodriguez-Quezada was in the hotel room using circumstantial evidence.
However, Ristenpart rendered much of that testimony irrelevant when she argued that Rodriguez-Quezada was in the hotel room and actually did kill Edwards, though in self-defense.
Rodriguez-Quezada was the subject of an almost two-month manhunt before he was arrested by University of Nevada, Reno, police just before Thanksgiving 2017. He has been in custody ever since. He was indicted by the Douglas County Grand Jury in January 2018.