Prosecution: Defendant hid evidence of killing
The prosecutor in a Stateline hotel murder case argued that the defendant tried to conceal his guilt in the killing of a Reno man.
Prosecutor Ric Casper said Jose Rodriguez-Quezada wiped down the room and removed evidence on Oct. 3, 2017, after killing Kevin Edwards.
Edwards’ body was found by housekeepers sitting in a chair the next day with more than 40 wounds.
Defense attorneys are arguing that Edwards produced the knife after he and Rodriguez-Quezada had sex and that the defendant killed him in self-defense.
Casper said no fingerprints were found in the Hard Rock Hotel room where the murder took place. He said that Edwards’ body was found with a granola bar on each shoulder and a dime in his mouth. He said the chair where the body was found didn’t have much blood on it, because it was put there after Edwards had died.
He said Rodriguez-Quezada hid his face when he entered the casino.
“These are the actions of someone who has guilt,” Casper said.
Casper showed videos to jurors during his closing showing Edwards arriving at the Hard Rock on Oct. 1.
“He’s seen checking in, and he’s a carefree man,” Casper said of Edwards.
He said most of the evidence presented was circumstantial.
“Why is that?” he asked. “Because the defendant made sure he didn’t leave evidence.”
When Rodriquez-Quezada was confronted with a photo of Edwards when he was arrested more than a month after the slaying, Casper said he denied recognizing him.
“It was only later after he is presented with incontrovertible evidence, that he gives the self-serving statement that it’s self-defense.”
According to testimony during the trial, there were 25 separate stab wounds, five long slashes and 10 additional wounds on the body.
Before closing arguments, District Judge Tod Young read more than 40 instructions to the jury.
Casper said he is seeking a first-degree murder conviction against Rodriguez-Quezada, but under the instructions, the jury could find that the killing was justified, or that the defendant is guilty of one of several lesser included offenses.
The jury is expected to return sometime Friday, but the verdict may not come until after The Record-Courier’s press time.
The trial was originally expected to last two and a half weeks when it started on June 12.
However, in her opening argument, Reno attorney Theresa Ristenpart told jurors that Rodriguez-Quezada was in the Hardrock Hotel room with Edwards and that he killed the Reno man, but in self-defense.
Ristenpart and Matthew Ence are defending Rodriguez-Quezada, who has been in custody since November 2017. He was indicted for murder by the Douglas County Grand Jury in January 2018.
Rodriguez-Quezada is in the U.S. illegally and is also being held for immigration officials.
He faces deportation proceedings no matter what happens in the case.
Edwards’ BMW was missing from the hotel and was the subject of a regional Authorities sought the public’s help finding Rodriguez-Quezada, who was spotted on security footage taken at the hotel, allegedly wearing a wig.
Rodriguez-Quezada was homeless, unemployed and living near the river in the Reno-Sparks area for the past year.
Ristenpart said Edwards invited Rodriguez-Quezada to the hotel room, promising food and shelter.