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Rodriguez sentenced to 45 years in prison

A man found guilty in May of being a first degree murder accomplice in an incident that occurred in Sunnyside on Christmas Eve of 2005 has been sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Michael Rodriguez was sentenced yesterday afternoon in Yakima County Superior Court, according to Bryant Skinner, who works in the prosecuting attorney's office as a victim and witness assistant.

The victim was Rosendo Hernandez of Sunnyside. According to testimony at Rodriguez's trial, Rodriguez and Francisco Acevedo traveled from Yakima to Sunnyside that evening to look for "scraps," a term used for rival gang members.

When Hernandez approached the car, Acevedo shot him point blank in the chest with a shotgun Rodriguez had earlier obtained, according to trial testimony heard in May.

Skinner said that Rodriguez was sentenced to 40 years for being an accomplice, and was sentenced to an additional five years under what is called a firearm enhancement. He will get credit for time served and will also be eligible for time off for good behavior.

Skinner explained that the sentencing time could have been on the higher end of the sentencing chart due to Rodriguez's extensive criminal history. Skinner described Rodriguez felony criminal record as "off the charts." Skinner said that for a person with no criminal history, the sentencing range would be from 240 to 320 months. With an extensive criminal history, the sentencing range is between 411 and 548 months. "It's almost close to double to what someone with no criminal history is looking at," said Skinner.

Skinner said that Rodriguez's attorney has filed an appeal.

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