Va. man convicted of killing girlfriend now to stand trial for estranged wife’s 1989 murder

Police searched for the remains of Pamela Butler along I-95 in Stafford County, Virginia. Inset is an image of Marta Haydee Rodriguez, who disappeared in 1989, and whose remains were found in the same area. Jose Rodriguez-Cruz admitted killing Butler, and will go on trial for the murder of Rodriguez (Courtesy NBC Washington/Arlington County police)

Jose Angel Rodriguez-Cruz, who is serving 12 years in prison for the 2009 murder of girlfriend Pamela Butler in D.C., could be back in Virginia one month from now to stand trial for a crime that happened decades earlier.

Rodriguez-Cruz is being held in the Gilmer Federal Correctional Institution, a medium-security facility in West Virginia, after confessing in 2017 to killing Butler in the basement of her D.C. home.

Court records and sources tell WTOP earlier this week Rodriguez-Cruz signed a document acknowledging he has 30 days to challenge being brought to Stafford County — where he was indicted in October 2019 for first-degree murder and concealing the dead body of Marta Haydee Rodriguez, who vanished in 1989.

Marta Rodriguez was 28-years-old when she disappeared from Arlington. Her remains were found in 1991 in the median of Interstate 95 in Stafford County, but were only identified by DNA testing in 2018.

During the 30-day waiting period related to a request from Stafford County prosecutors for temporary custody, a challenge could be filed by Rodriguez-Cruz, the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the District of Columbia. With no prisons of its own, defendants convicted in the District of Columbia serve sentences in federal facilities.

If Rodriguez-Cruz does not challenge the transfer of custody, sheriff’s deputies from Stafford County could transport him to Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford as early as the first week in March.

His first court appearance in the Stafford County Circuit Court would likely be via video, but he would be in court for his arraignment. Under speedy trial rules, prosecutors would have to put Rodriguez-Cruz on trial within 120 days.

If convicted of Rodriguez’s murder, he could face up to life in prison.

Butler’s brother, Derrick, had spearheaded efforts to have Rodriguez-Cruz charged in Virginia, since his plea agreement in the District would allow him to eventually be released from prison.

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