In 2002, 23-year-old Elaine Fonseca-Rodriguez was found beaten to death in her Kentucky home. During the investigation prosecutors found that she was killed by her boyfriend, Juan Pelegrin-Vidal, after he discovered she aborted their baby.
At the first trial prosecutors argued that Pelegrin-Vidal was angry with Fonseca-Rodriguez for having an abortion, which is why he killed her. He was originally sentenced in 2007 but the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed the decision when they determined that the judge involved in the case should not have allowed a jury to use a transcript of a 911 call.
Tragically, Fonseca-Rodriguez was only one-week away from receiving her engineering degree from the University of Louisville when she was found dead. The girl’s father, Edilberto Fonseca, said that Pelegrin-Vidal had wanted a relationship with his daughter but their family disapproved. In the 1990’s Fonseca-Rodriguez and her parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba and the young woman had recently become a United States citizen.
Elaine Fonseca-Rodriguez was found beaten to death in 2002. The case has been moving through the court system for 12 years.
Attorneys for the victim’s family instructed them not to talk to reporters, and the defense also declined an interview. Both sides said they’ll wait until Juan Pelegrin-Vidal is sentenced Thursday.
Pelegrin-Vidal waited nearly eight hours for a 12-person jury to decide his fate.
As the judge read the guilty verdict, Pelegrin-Vidal remained emotionless.
Twelve years ago, Pelegrin-Vidal was the suspect in the murder. He had been involved in a relationship with Fonseca-Rodriguez.
Prosecutors said Fonseca-Rodriguez was pregnant with Pelegrin-Vidal’s child and had an abortion.
Prosecutors said the abortion infuriated Pelegrin-Vidal enough to kill her the next day.
A jury found Pelegrin-Vidal guilty in 2007, but the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2010, ruling a Jefferson County judge should not have allowed a jury to use a transcript of a 911 call.
The jury just listened to the call during the retrial. The jury still has work to do. It must determine a sentence for the crimes.
The judge allowed jurors to go home for the night, but they will meet back at the judicial center Thursday at 10 a.m. to recommend a sentence for Pelegrin-Vidal. He faces life in prison for the murder conviction.