Man sentenced for killing young mother
VISTA, Calif. — One of two men convicted of killing a young mother and dumping her body near the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido was sentenced Tuesday to 33 years to life in state prison.
Destin Lee Withers, 38, was convicted of first-degree murder, along with 44-year-old Jeffrey McCreary, in the February 2012 death of 20-year-old Denise Rodriguez.
McCreary, the gunman, has a criminal history that includes armed robberies, weapon and drug possessions and buying stolen goods. He faces 100 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 28.
Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton said Rodriguez — a drug addict with no permanent residence — told people two days before she was killed that a man she met at an apartment complex raped her and gave her bad drugs.
Withers tried to help find the man who supposedly hurt Rodriguez, but when he found out the story wasn’t true, he and McCreary picked her up at a motel, Breton said.
While awaiting trial, Withers told a fellow inmate that Rodriguez was trying to get out of the car when she was shot, the prosecutor said.
The prosecution also presented physical evidence at trial, including the victim’s blood and a bullet hole found in Withers’ car.
Withers’ attorney argued that his client did not know that McCreary was going to shoot Rodriguez. She was shot a total of four times, according to authorities.
At the time of the killing, Rodriguez’s daughter was about eight or nine months old and being cared for by family.
Withers still faces a murder charge in the February 2008 shooting death of a 28-year-old man outside a tavern in Lakeside.