A 34-year-old Catonsville man was convicted in Harford County yesterday on 16 charges tied to a 27-mile high-speed chase along Interstate 95 March 5 in which his car struck three state police cars.
Judge Cypert O. Whitfill ordered a presentence investigation for the defendant, Roberto Rodriguez, of the 6100 block of Old Frederick Road, set sentencing Oct. 27 and revoked the man's $25,000 bond.
The Circuit Court jury, in two hours of deliberations, convicted Rodriguez on three counts of assault with intent to avoid apprehension, three counts of battery, four counts of assault, four counts of resisting arrest, one count of fleeing and eluding police, and one count of driving under the influence.
According to trial testimony, the chase began when Sgt. Bernard Shaw, who was off duty, saw Rodriguez speeding north on I-95 toward Aberdeen about 7 p.m. Other troopers joined the chase that nearly ended at Route 543 when Rodriguez stopped at the end of an exit ramp to avoid striking a compact car, but eluded police again.
Rodriguez veered his 1977 Ford van at police cruisers several times during the chase, drove up to 85 mph, and at one point drove north in the southbound lanes of I-95, troopers testified. He was finally stopped by three troopers who blocked him with their cars in the fast lane near the Baltimore County line, but not before he struck all three.
Rodriguez, the troopers told the jury, fought as they tried to remove him from the van at gunpoint. His left ear was cut in the struggle. Later, he was restrained by six troopers at Fallston General Hospital, where they took him for treatment.
Rodriguez, a carpet installer, testified that he had been drinking beer and cognac for about three hours after classes at a trade school in Baltimore and could not remember anything about the incident except that, "a bunch of guys were beating up on me."
Maleah Rodriguez, his wife, testified for the defense that her husband was a "nice guy when he wasn't drinking."