Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Ezekial Johnson (age 28), of Pawtucket, was sentenced today to consecutive life sentences plus 10 years for the July 2007 murder of Jose Rodriguez. Johnson was found guilty in July 2018 of first degree murder, discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence resulting in death, and carrying a firearm without a license after a two-week trial presided over by Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause.
During the trial, the State proved that Ezekial Johnson and two other individuals were in the back seat of Mr. Rodriguez's taxi in Central Falls when Johnson pulled out a gun and shot Mr. Rodriguez in the back of the head, killing him. It is believed the three men intended to not pay Mr. Rodriguez for the taxi ride, whereas Johnson shot him instead.
The case remained unsolved for several years until a witness came forward. Central Falls Police were then able to link DNA left near the scene to that of Johnson. A Providence County Grand Jury subsequently indicted Johnson in 2017 for the murder.
"Mr. Rodriguez was the victim of a senseless crime of violence that went unsolved because individuals who were with Ezekial Johnson that day failed to do the right thing and report the barbaric murder," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Their cowardly and self-serving actions left the family of Mr. Rodriguez begging for answers and pleas for a decade that someone be held responsible for the death of their loved one. It is my hope that with today's sentencing, they can find some peace knowing that the day has come, and that the defendant is finally held accountable."
Central Falls Police Detective Jeff Araujo and Lt. Christopher Reed led the investigation. Assistant Attorney General James Baum and Special Assistant Attorney General Timothy Healy prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.