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Former Olympic Boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez Sentenced for Murdering Pregnant Girlfriend He Tried to Pressure into Abortion
Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz was found floating in the San José Lagoon in May 2021 after former boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez injected her with drugs and threw her from a bridge.
Former Olympic boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted for the grisly killing of his pregnant girlfriend in 2021.
In July, Verdejo Sánchez was found guilty of committing a kidnapping that resulted in the death of Keishla M. Rodríguez Ortiz and her unborn child, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico said in a news release.
Verdejo Sánchez’s attorney announced Friday that he plans to appeal the sentencing, the Associated Press reported.
How did Félix Verdejo Sánchez kill Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz?
According to the district attorney’s office, on April 29, 2021, Verdejo Sánchez lured Rodríguez Ortiz into his vehicle, punched her, injected her with drugs and used metal wire to tie her to a cement block. He then drove to Teodoro Moscoso bridge, where he threw his pregnant girlfriend into the San José Lagoon.
“He later jumped into the lagoon in order to finish murdering both victims,” the release stated.
The former boxer, who represented Puerto Rico in the 2012 Summer Olympics, was assisted by Luis Antonio Cádiz Martínez, who was tried alongside Verdejo Sánchez and also convicted.
During the trial, Cádiz Martínez told the court that Verdejo Sánchez had pressured Rodríguez Ortiz to get an abortion, according to CBS News. Cádiz Martínez called the police anonymously on the day of the murder to provide them with the location of her body, which was found on May 1, 2021.
“Today’s life sentence rightly holds Verdejo-Sánchez responsible for the pain and suffering he inflicted on his victims,” said U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow, adding that Verdejo Sánchez “maintains his unrepentant attitude” to this day.
Before handing down the sentence, federal Judge Pedro Delgado said that Verdejo "ended the lives of two people. He did it horrendously. ... The level of cruelty only added to the tragedy that led to these unfortunate events. Those lives, as well as those of the family, have changed forever. There's no going back on this," El Nuevo Día reported.
According to the Puerto Rican newspaper, the sentence hearing began with over an hour of statements from Rodríguez Ortiz’s family.
“They took my daughter and grandson away from me in the cruelest, most cowardly way,” Rodríguez Ortiz’s mother, Keila Ortiz, said in court, adding that her daughter was “such a good girl, so noble, so loving, always helping people in need…”
“Let her be the last,” Ortiz said during her daughter's funeral, per NBC News. “The abuse against women has to stop.”
Rodríguez Ortiz’s death came soon after Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency over gender-based violence in Puerto Rico.
An uproar of advocacy groups holding the government responsible for gender-based violence was the catalyst for the state of emergency, which went into effect in January of 2021, according to CNN.
Since the murder of the mother-to-be, there have been at least 153 documented femicides in the U.S. territory, NBC News reported in June, citing data from the civil rights coalition Observatorio de Equidad de Género.
“This sentence should serve as a lesson for others,” Puerto Rico Police Commissioner Antonio López told AP. “It doesn’t matter how much fame, money or power you think you have. If you break the law, you will have to respond."