Police: 'Pattern of intimidation' preceded New Cassel man's death at the hands of MS-13 members

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A man who police say was the victim of a beating at the hands of MS-13 members in 2018 was found dead in New Cassel earlier this week.

Police identified Wilmer Maldonado Rodriguez, 36, as the man found dead behind an abandoned home on Broadway Sunday.

Police say Rodriguez was one of three victims of a gang assault over a year ago. According to the Nassau District Attorney's Office, Rodriguez was protecting someone who was being bullied in 2018 when he was beaten and stabbed by MS-13 gang members known to police as the "Gang of Nine."

The DA's office says as a result of the investigation into that case, nine MS-13 members were arrested for assault and witness intimidation. They are still behind bars. Maldonado Rodriguez and others became witnesses, according to police.

 
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Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder says the DA's office had a hearing regarding the case going to trial in December of last year. He says at that hearing, it was decided that all information that had a protective hold on it would have to be turned over to the defense counsel days later. This included witness names and contact information.

"We don't know if the defense counsel turned that information over to the defendants, but we do know that right after that time period, we started this pattern of intimidation," says Ryder.

Ryder says on Jan. 30, one of the witnesses was shot at. Two days later, he says Rodriguez was beaten but escaped. He was found dead the following day.

In relation to the case, Ryder said at a news conference that "common sense reform decisions need to happen now."

 

"We had a protective order that the DA put in place for over a year to protect that information, to protect our victims. That's what we do," says Ryder. "That protective order, because of the new changes in law, was lifted."

Ryder later released a statement, saying, "As I indicted at my press conference there is no direct link between the death of Wilmer Maldonado Rodriguez and criminal justice reform. The information and facts of the case that I provided are accurate."

 

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