A Ridge man shot his girlfriend in the back as she tried to get away from him and then finished her off with a shot to the head, a Suffolk prosecutor said Wednesday after the man pleaded not guilty to an indictment.
Jose Rodriguez III, 32, is charged with second-degree murder and attempted aggravated murder. He is accused of killing his live-in girlfriend, Kimberly Sellitto, 36, and then firing at police on Nov. 16 while he barricaded himself in their apartment with his two young children.
"He gunned her down with a semiautomatic rifle while she was running away from him, screaming for help," said Assistant District Attorney Caren Manzello. After one shot to the back knocked her to the ground, Manzello said, Rodriguez walked up to Sellitto and fired the fatal shot into the back of her head.
Then he held his two sons hostage and called 911 to tell police what he had done, Manzello said. When police arrived in an armored vehicle, she said, Rodriguez fired at them without warning. Police said at the time that he fired six shots at an Emergency Service Unit truck.
"If not for the bulletproof glass, the officer would have been shot in the face," Manzello said.
Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson ordered Rodriguez held without bail.
"You face the possibility of spending the rest of your life behind bars," he told Rodriguez. If convicted, Rodriguez faces a maximum of 45 years to life in prison.
Defense attorney Steven Fondulis of Port Jefferson said he is not sure yet how the case will proceed, and still needs to investigate his client's background.
Manzello said that Rodriguez's background includes serving 11 months for robbery in Pennsylvania.
Rodriguez, who worked as a tattoo artist until his arrest, had a tribal tattoo next to his right eye and numerous others visible in court, including a small Superman logo on his right bicep.
Neither attorney offered an explanation for what started the rampage.
Hudson also signed an order of protection barring Rodriguez from contacting his children, who are now in the custody of their biological mother.