36-year-old Wilmer Maldonado Rodriguez’s body was found Sunday outside an abandoned home in New Cassel. Rodriguez was willing to testify against MS-13 members who attacked him in 2018. According to the police, he was found dead after his identity was disclosed to defendants’ attorneys in pre-trial proceedings.
In 2018, Rodriguez came to the defense of two boys that the gang was threatening. In a Newsday report, Rodriguez “was attacked when he intervened in October 2018 when two boys were allegedly threatened by MS-13 and was struck with a bat in the head and stabbed multiple times, authorities said.”
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“This courageous man was prepared to testify against his alleged assailants at an upcoming trial, but he was brutally beaten to death before he could,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “This case underscores the importance of safeguarding the identities of witnesses and victims of crime and our hearts are with Mr. Maldonado’s family and friends as we grieve his loss.”
According to Singas, prosecutors tried to keep Rodriguez’s identity secret by obtaining a protective order in December 2018. However, it was later turned over according to a judge’s instruction “as part of pre-trial discovery in which the prosecution reveals its evidence so the defense can prepare,” reported Newsday.
Rodriguez’s death prompted a news conference wherein officials initially linked it to “recent changes in criminal justice reforms that speed up discovery, only to later say there was no direct correlation,” said Newsday.