MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A young teenager was convicted of murdering a 67-year-old food truck owner back in 2021, according to a news release from the Stanislaus County District Attorney.
Because R.K. was 13 years old when he shot and killed Rafael Rodriguez, he could have been sentenced to juvenile hall or a program called Secure Track, but recent changes to how adolescents are sentenced changed the potential outcome of his sentence, according to the DA.
R.K., now 15 years old, is only eligible for being placed in a “non-locked group home” or a sentence of juvenile hall that could only last until his 25th birthday, this due to a new law approved by the state legislature and the governor.
On Feb. 16, 2021, R.K. walked up to the “Doña Sole Comida Mexicana” food truck parked near the intersection of Monterey Avenue and Thrasher Avenue in Modesto. According to the DA, within seconds, he pulled out a handgun and shot Rodriguez in the face before fleeing.
Modesto Police detectives arrested R.K. soon after for the murder of Rodriguez and took him to juvenile hall.
Under California law, R.K. could not be prosecuted as an adult since he was only 13 years old. However, the DA said that “a petition was filed in Juvenile Court alleging R.K had committed first-degree premeditated murder along with an enhancement for personally using a firearm.”
On April 14, 2022, Judge Ruben Villalobos found that R.K. “committed first-degree murder and had personally used a firearm in murdering Rodriguez.”
Although R.K. has been convicted, he has yet to receive a sentence and is set to have his next court appearance on Aug. 24, 2022.