A.G. Schneiderman Announces Prison Sentence In 1979 Buffalo Cold Case Killing

Michael Rodriguez Receives Maximum Sentence Of 25 Years To Life For Brutally Stabbing His Estranged Wife In Cemetery On Good Friday

Schneiderman: After 35 Years, Family And Friends Of Patti Rodriguez Finally Have A Small Measure Of Comfort And Closure

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Michael Rodriguez, convicted last month of the brutal murder of his estranged wife, Patricia Scinta Rodriguez, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in Erie County Supreme Court. Ms. Rodriguez’s body was found in a deserted section of Lackawanna’s Holy Cross Cemetery in the early morning hours of April 13, 1979 (Good Friday); she had been stabbed 108 times.  

“After 35 years, the family and friends of Patti Rodriguez finally have a small measure of comfort and closure,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This conviction and sentence, so many years after this heinous crime was committed, sends a very clear message: my office will never stop working to bring criminals to justice.”

In June 2013, the New York State Police brought the case to the Attorney General's Office.  The decision was made to retest the clothing the victim had been wearing on the night she was killed.  Testing revealed male DNA on an intimate area of the victim's clothing, and a court-ordered sample from Michael Rodriguez confirmed that the DNA belonged to the defendant.  In November 2013, the defendant was indicted by the Attorney General’s Office on the charge of Murder in the Second Degree.

In October 2014, the case went to trial in Erie County Supreme Court.  The two-week jury trial involved the testimony of over 25 witnesses and the introduction of over 100 exhibits into evidence, and included a key witness who recanted her alibi 30 years after the murder.  The jury convicted the defendant after deliberating for just three hours.

The Attorney General thanks the New York State Police and Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico, the Lackawanna Police Department, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III, the Erie County Central Police Services Forensic Laboratory and the Erie County Office of the Medical Examiner for their valuable assistance in this investigation.  

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Diane LaVallee and Cydney Kelly of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Patricia Carrington of the Organized Crime Task Force, with the assistance of Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Assistant Attorney General Isaac Gilwit. The case was overseen by Gary Fishman, Chief of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is part of the Division of Criminal Justice, led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan. 

The prosecution was assisted by Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle, Senior Investigator Sandra Migaj, and Investigator Christopher Bzduch of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau, which is led by Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella. 

The investigation was led by New York State Police Senior Investigator Christopher Weber and Captain Steven A. Nigrelli. The Lackawanna Police Department, under the direction of Chief James L. Michel, also assisted with the investigation.