Santa Ana Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime Against Roommates


Santa Ana Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime Against Roommates

Santa Ana Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime Against Roommates

SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 40-year-old man pleaded guilty today to threatening two gay roommates in Santa Ana at knifepoint and slashing the tires of one victim's vehicle.

Joe Martin Rodriguez pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony count of criminal threats and a misdemeanor hate crime. He was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 16 in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Rodriguez grew angry on July 4 when he wrongly believed one of his roommates was using the bathroom, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. He pounded on the door of the bathroom with an 8- to 9-inch silver blade knife with a brown handle, making anti-gay slurs and threatening to kill his roommates, Bertagna said.

At some point he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at one or two of the victims while making more homophobic remarks and threatening to kill both of them, Bertagna said.

As police were called, Rodriguez left and slashed the tires of one of the victims' vehicles before getting into a car with a friend, who drove away from the home, Bertagna said.

Police located the car and pulled the driver over, prompting the defendant to get out and run away, Bertagna said, but a police helicopter crew tracked him down and he was arrested.

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