For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has announced that a defendant in a battery case has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of beating an elderly victim who confronted him while he placed graffiti on the Pioneer Theater and a State of Nevada historical marker.
In commenting on the sentence DA Hicks said, “ This Good Samaritan, who only sought to support the movement to improve downtown Reno, was brutally victimized by a useless scourge that has no respect for the work so many have done to improve and preserve our city. Hopefully, this sentence brings some level of justice to this brave victim.”
Juan Jose Rodriguez, 27, from Sparks, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on one count of Battery Causing Substantial Bodily Harm Committed Against an Older Person. Rodriguez pled guilty in March and was sentenced Tuesday by the Honorable Connie Steinheimer. The sentence ensures that a minimum of five and one-half years must be served before parole eligibility begins.
The case against Rodriguez began in September, 2016 when the Reno Police Department (RPD) responded to a report of a battery and a victim who was severely injured. When officers arrived, they found a 68 year old male victim, conscious but having difficulties breathing. The victim was immediately transported by REMSA to the hospital and treated for severe head trauma that had caused his brain to swell and bleed.
RPD Robbery Homicide Unit (RHU) Detectives were called to investigate and determined that the victim was walking with his long-time girlfriend in downtown Reno when they saw Rodriguez placing graffiti on the marquee sign of the Pioneer Theater and a historical marker by the courthouse. The victim told Rodriguez to stop, advised he was calling the police, and took a photograph of Rodriguez to provide to police. Rodriguez responded by punching the victim in the head when the man was not looking, causing him to fall unconscious to the ground. Detectives interviewed several witnesses who were able to identify Rodriguez. Rodriguez was arrested a short time later and this office filed formal criminal charges against him.
During sentencing Prosecutor Zach Young argued that Rodriguez is a significant threat to the community as represented by his violent attack of a man who was simply trying to get him to stop placing graffiti upon monuments in the downtown corridor. Young also highlighted the seriousness of the victim’s injuries: he was not expected to survive, having been in a coma for 15 days and in the hospital for more than 6 months, undergoing several brain surgeries. He is still in rehab, and doctors say he will never fully recover. The victim, a former college professor, has had to re-learn how to do such basic tasks as walking, talking, and eating.