Former American Airlines employee sentenced in girlfriend's murder

Joel Rodriguez to spend 25 years in prison

MIAMI – A plea deal ended a five-year ordeal for the family of an American Airlines employee who was killed by the man she loved.

"Is there anything you, Mr. Rodriguez, would like to say before I pronounce sentence at this point?" a Miami-Dade County judge asked Joel Rodriguez.  

"No," Rodriguez said.

"You have nothing to say to the family of your victim?" the judge asked.

"If I could say that I'm sorry, that I could turn the clock back, it would be different," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez never looked at the victim's family, who were sobbing in court. They brought a photo of Ruth Fuentes, Rodriguez's girlfriend, whom he shot to death five years ago this month.

"Did you find his apology at all sincere?" Local 10 News reporter Glenna Milberg asked attorney Ted Mastos.

"I was hoping that Joel would express some more remorse, and frankly, I was disappointed in his reaction," Mastos said.

Fuentes and Rodriguez both worked for American Airlines. She was found shot to death at home, and a significant trail of evidence led to Rodriquez's arrest in New Jersey a month later.

As part of the plea, Rodriguez was sentenced to 25 years in prison instead of life. Fuentes' family members said they were satisfied by the deal.

"If Ruth were here today, we know that she would forgive you," the victim's brother, Kevin Santos, said in court. "That's just how she was. I am not my sister."

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