A southern Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his wife’s son as the teenager saved his mother’s life during a knife attack.
Jaime A. Vaca, 27, of Austin, has agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree attempted murder in connection with the killing of 15-year-old Julio Cesar Rodriguez and the wounding of 36-year-old Virginia Rodriguez, on Dec. 15, 2020, at the family’s home in the 800 block of NW. 3rd Avenue.
The plea agreement calls for Vaca to receive a term of 31 3⁄4 years when he is sentenced on Jan. 13 in Mower County District Court. With credit for time in jail since his arrest, Vaca will serve more than 21 years in prison and the balance on supervised release.
“It was just heartbreaking,” County Attorney Kristen Nelsen said Tuesday. “Our victim was a true hero.”
Rodriguez’s obituary online read that “his great love for his family was evident every day and undeniable in his final actions.”
In the immediate aftermath of the teenager’s death, Austin Police Chief David McKichan said in a Facebook post that the violence prompted “one of the most challenging and tragic calls I can recall in our city’s history. … Arriving officers and deputies found a scene in which they needed to provide immediate medical aid to two victims for severe wounds, secure a suspect using nonlethal means if possible, and protect yet unharmed individuals in the home — all of whom were children.”
According to the complaint, officers found the woman outside bleeding from a stab wound to the neck and her son bleeding on a couch. The teen died at a Rochester hospital.
Vaca was hiding in a bathroom holding a knife. He refused to drop the knife and was subdued with a Taser. The officers also found five children hiding upstairs.
Vaca and his wife were arguing in their bedroom, and one of the children summoned the son for help. Julio Rodriguez kicked in the bedroom door as Vaca was on top of the boy’s mother and choking her. Vaca got off his wife when the son intervened, grabbed a knife and stabbed the boy.
Vaca told detectives that he and his wife were arguing about his new job, which he quit the night before.