On Friday, former professional boxer Félix Verdejo was handed two life sentences for the 2021 murder of his pregnant partner, Keishla Rodríguez. The sentence was delivered by a federal judge amid statements from Rodríguez’s relatives.
In July, Verdejo was convicted on charges of kidnapping leading to death and intentionally killing an unborn child. His legal representation has indicated plans to appeal the decision.
The conclusion of this high-profile case has been met with widespread reaction in Puerto Rico, with law enforcement officials commenting on the implications of the verdict. “No level of fame, money, or power shields one from justice if the law is broken,” commented Puerto Rico Police Commissioner Antonio López.
Evidence presented during the trial revealed that Verdejo had attempted to coerce Rodríguez into terminating her pregnancy. Furthermore, an associate of Verdejo, Luis Antonio Cádiz—who also faces charges—testified to witnessing the former Olympian assaulting Rodríguez and administering a poisonous substance to her. The assailants then bound her and submerged her body in a lagoon.
An emergency call later placed by Cádiz led authorities to Rodríguez’s remains, which were found with traces of fentanyl and xylazine.
Verdejo’s conviction has brought attention to issues of domestic violence in the U.S. territory, prompting calls for increased protection for victims.
The former Olympian’s boxing career, which began in 2012, ended with a record of 27 wins and 2 losses, including 17 knockouts.